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NHS cuts PMS funding without setting plans to reinvest in general practice

NHS managers have admitted that they cut PMS funding without planning how to reinvest it in primary care – a practice that has been banned by the NHS England board.

The acknowledgement, from NHS England (East), comes in light of a patient group complaint sent to NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens yesterday.

However, the area team has said that it began the process before the national NHS guidance was circulated to NHS England’s director of commissioning Rosamond Roughton last month.

Under the guidance, NHS England area teams were told not to remove funding from PMS practices as part of the review of all contracts until a decision had been made by CCGs on how they would reinvest it into general practice.

The patient group’s letter, shared with Pulse, said the NHS West Norfolk CCG had not published any proposals regarding the funding taken from Vida Healthcare – which is losing around £550,000 in PMS funding.

Patient group representative Dan O’Connor highlighted that this was against the guidance issued by Ms Roughton.

He wrote: ‘[NHS] West Norfolk CCG failed to comply with the NHS director of commissioning’s instructions, no proposals were published, nor were patients consulted – and the cuts to Vida’s funding are already taking place. This is completely unacceptable.

‘As representatives of Vida’s 30,000-plus patients, we are therefore asking that Vida’s funding be restored immediately until these detailed proposals are published and discussed, and this matter has been fully investigated. We are also asking for a detailed explanation as to why WNCCG failed to comply with Rosamond Roughton’s instructions.’

But NHS England (East) locality director Joanna Yellon said: ‘Ros Roughton’s letter was issued on 16 May 2016, after the review in Norfolk had been completed.

‘This review was completed for all practices in East Anglia by September 2015. The outcome of the review saw funding reductions across a number of practices in the area, including Vida Healthcare who currently hold a large PMS contract across a number of sites in West Norfolk.

‘In line with the national timeline funding reduction began in October 2015 and will be phased over four years with the money being reinvested by all CCGs, including West Norfolk.’

She added that NHS West Norfolk CCG ‘will be submitting their plans for the redistribution of the monies by the end of summer [2016]’.

How PMS funding is being cut

PMS gravestone

PMS gravestone

The national review of PMS premiums aims to ‘redeploy’ funding across GP practices

One of the GP partners at the Vida Healthcare group practice previously told Pulse that their PMS review has resulted in a planned reduction to its funding of at least £250,000 annually, which would force it to cut back patient services.

The health secretary has rejected an appeal from the practice against the cuts, following an earlier rejection from NHS England and Vida Healthcare’s patient group, along with local MP Sir Henry Bellingham MP met with a health minister last month to discuss the situation.

It has also considered joining an existing legal case against PMS cuts brought by patients of a practice based in Huddersfield.