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PMS contract disputes up 50%, as talks with managers break down

Record numbers of GPs are challenging PCT moves to terminate PMS and GMS contracts with wider disputes over PMS contracts spiralling, show official NHS figures.

Six GP practices filed contract termination disputes with the NHS Litigation Authority in 2010/11, the highest number of termination cases since records began in 2004/05, and more than the combined number of termination cases handled in the previous three years.

Figures from the NHSLA show that disputes over wider issues with PMS contracts, including rows over payment, rent levels and practice mergers, rose by 50% in 2010/11, with 16 cases launched compared to 11 in 2009/10.

The NHSLA handles dispute resolution claims on the direction of the health secretary in cases where local dispute resolution has failed to resolve differences between GPs and PCTs. 

The NHSLA's annual report, published earlier this month, revealed that PMS and GMS contract termination disputes launched by GPs and dentists made up one in five of dispute resolution claims handled by the authority in 2010/11. Overall rent disputes between GPs and PCTs fell, with claims down by 27% on the previous year.

The report states: ‘Disputes arising under the General Medical Services and Personal Medical Services Regulation once again became the main source of applications for dispute resolution…We did determine a significant number of applications for dispute resolution following termination of contract by PCTs, which made up 21% of dispute resolution determinations.'

The report revealed that clinical negligence claims against PCTs, foundation trusts and NHS trusts rose by almost a third in 2010/11. Claims payments to patients rose to a record high of £729 million, up £78 million from the previous year and almost double the £384.4 million launched in 2005/06.



GP contract termination disputes














Source: NHS Litigation Authority


Earlier this month, Pulse revealed warnings from legal experts that PMS practices face a ‘precarious' future after a landmark court judgement gave PCTs the power to force GPs to accept PMS changes or face contract termination.

At the time, Michael Rourke, associate solicitor, at Lockharts Solicitors said: ‘Practices with PMS reviews are in a more precarious position than at any time previously.'

‘If practices do not accept changes advanced by PCTs in these reviews, it appears there is an increasing chance that they will have their PMS agreements terminated or be forced to revert to GMS with the financial penalties that are likely to arise.'