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PMS contract reviews to be ‘more rigorous’ from April

Exclusive The NHS Commissioning Board will introduce a ‘single, fair and rigorous process’ to review PMS contracts from April, in order to prevent the current variation in the way GPs have been treated so far by PCTs.

Pulse can reveal the Board gave the committment to introduce a consistent process at a meeting with the Board a few weeks ago.

The Board will hold all PMS contracts from April and the NAPC said it was ‘encouraging’ that it was trying to make the process taken by local branches of the board was more ‘rigorous’. The Board will work with the NAPC and the GPC to develop the new process.

PMS practices have been subject to a series of reviews over the past few years, and also faces the uncertainty of a move to ‘more equitable’ baseline funding with GMS - as promised by the Department of Health - over seven years, starting in 2014.

But the NAPC said their meeting with the Board had led to some ‘pretty significant’ conclusions, including that the often variable approach to PMS renegotiation often taken by PCTs would cease with the takeover.

NAPC chair Dr Charles Alessi told Pulse their talks had reached a ‘pretty substantial outcome’ that all processes to do with altering PMS funding would be done with ‘rigour’.

He said: ‘The way renegotiations were conducted over the last few years was varied. The renegotiations have not been performed with the rigour that they could have been performed in all cases.

‘Now the Board is taking over that process as of April, they are going to be conducted with that rigour. There is going to be a single process and that is really encouraging, because that is really what we have been asking for. We will also be intimately involved in the detail of that process.’

He added: ‘What it means is that there will be one process, because what we have is that there is a whole host of different processes that were used. Some of which were sensible, some of which were less sensible.’

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Confirming the statement, a Board spokesperson said: ‘The NHS Commissioning Board is committed to a single, fair and rigorous process for reviewing PMS contracts.

‘The NHS Commissioning Board supports the principles of equitable funding, but will need to undertake further work, in conjunction with PMS practices and with other stakeholders, to determine how best to apply these principles.

‘This will include identifying those elements of PMS funding that support services that go above and beyond those routinely provided by GMS practices and resolving how this funding can best be used in future to support local quality improvement and innovation.’

The commitment comes as the GPC addressed threats to PMS funding in its series of GP contract roadshows around England in recent weeks, and warned that ‘high-funded’ PMS practices will almost certainly lose significant amounts of money as part of the plan to move towards more equitable funding with GMS contract holders.primar

But, speaking to Pulse, GPC deputy chair Dr Richard Vautrey cautiously welcomed the move.

He said: ‘I think moving to one arrangement, one process led by the Board, should be helpful as long as it is done in a measured and understanding way.

‘[PCT] reviews are very variable, approached in different ways. Practices want stability, they want to be treated fairly. [The Board] has an opportunity, and we have been working with them, to ensure that this gets handled appropriately.’

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Pulse Live offers practical advice on key clinical and practice business topics, as well as an opportunity to debate the future of the profession, and a top range of speakers includes NICE chair designate Professor David Haslam, GPC deputy chair Dr Richard Vautrey and the Rt Hon Stephen Dorrell MP, chair of the House of Commons health committee.

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