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PMS practices offered transition deal which will preserve funding until 2016

Exclusive PMS practices in the North East of England have been given a freeze on any funding reductions until 2016/17, after undergoing a review of ‘premium’ funding they receive over and above the GMS baseline.

The deal, struck between LMC leaders and the NHS England area team, is the first to offer a freeze until next year, and practices who want to remain on a PMS contract will have funding reductions bringing them into line with GMS practices spread over two years.

Any PMS practice that wishes to move to a GMS contract will be able to do so over five years beginning from next year.

But the GPs who negotiated the deal fear NHS England’s PMS review drive will have a knock-on effect on workforce in the region, where many practices historically opted for PMS contracts in a bid to tackle recruitment problems.

It comes as a result of NHS England’s bid for all its local area teams to review all ‘premium’ funding received by PMS practices over and above the GMS baseline, in a bid to free up £260m, which it says will be ploughed back into general practice.

The local area team in the North East gave GPs two options, with the first being a deal to transition back to baseline GMS funding, which will see PMS income reduced by 20% each year from April 2016/17.

This option has the advantage of giving practices the current financial year as a grace period to prepare for the loss of income.

It follows a similar deal for PMS practices in Essex, which was the first region to negotiate a transition deal dubbed the ‘Essex Factor’, and allowed practice to have transition funding reduced by one seventh each year, but this began in April 2014.

The North East practices also have an option to stay on a PMS contract after undergoing a review, which will look at what extra work they are doing for the money they receive above the GMS baseline.

Once completing the review, practices will have a year’s grace period to prepare for losses, which will be spread out over two years – the first area team to allow practices a transition period while remaining on a PMS contract.

Dr Ken Megson executive officer at Newcastle and North Tyneside LMC, who lead on negotiating the deal in the North East, told Pulse it was a ‘reasonable deal’.

But he said some regions were particularly badly affected by potential losses, with Sunderland practices alone standing to lose £2 million.

He added: ‘Sunderland had a high percentage of PMS, because of the past problems with recruitment, and obviously reverting back to GMS is going to cause the same problems we think. And we’re already starting to see the recruitment problems.’

Dr Megson said the transition deals officially started in April 2014, when NHS England local area teams were told to review funding from, but there would be a two-year period of grace.

He added: ‘There are two options, the first option of which is the seven years pace of change from April 2014, which was when everything started. Nothing deducted for the first two years, and then the next five years they take 20% off each year.

‘The second option would be for people who wanted a review. Their pace of change would be four years. The first two years [from 2014] would have nothing, and then the money is taken off in the last two years, to whatever baseline was dictated by the review.’