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PCTs plunder PMS contracts

By Ian Quinn

Cash-strapped PCTs are plundering GP contracts in an effort to make millions in efficiency savings.

A raft of trusts have begun wide-ranging reviews of PMS contracts, after the Government warned that those failing to squeeze money from GP agreements by April would fail World-Class Commissioning targets.

In September, Pulse revealed the Department of Health had ordered a wholesale renegotiation of PMS contracts, which make up more than 40% of the total, while suggesting some of the savings be offered to GMS practices for hitting new targets.

Londonwide LMCs has revealed that five PCTs across the capital have now completed their PMS reviews, with another 13 either having a review in progress or imminent.

LMC leaders warned the level of practice funding at some trusts could be halved.

NHS Greenwich is among those facing showdown talks with PMS practices over its plans to cut the cost of contracts.

And NHS Hounslow is implementing a wide-ranging squeeze on primary care spending.

Documents uncovered by Pulse reveal the trust plans to ‘introduce renegotiated PMS contracts to support improved opening hours and patient choice'. Squeezing GP pay is identified as one of the key ways to bring down the trust's £17m debt.

Ironically, a recent Pulse investigation into NHS spending on PCT managers found NHS Hounslow top of the list, with management costs having soared by 116% between 2007/8 and 2009/10.

Dr Tony Stanton, joint chief executive of Londonwide LMCs, said he believed all PCTs would begin targeting PMS practices to bail themselves out of financial trouble.

‘The extreme pressure PCTs are under to achieve financial balance is coupled with distinct drivers to get PCTs to ensure they are achieving best value for money,' he said.

PCTs are plundering PMS contracts to make millions in efficiency savings