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NAPC raises concerns over future of PMS practices

Government statements about developing an ‘equitable approach’ to the funding of PMS practices is causing ‘increasing anxiety’ among GPs, says the NAPC.

A statement from the NAPC says PMS providers fear losing their additional funding to provide locally-agreed services amid ‘vague’ language from the DH.

NAPC chair Dr Charles Alessi said he would be writing to the Government to clarify the meaning of its statements over GP contract negotiations for 2013/14.

Last week, a letter to SHAs and PCTs from DH commissioning development lead Dame Barbara Hakin said ‘potential changes’ to both GMS and PMS contracts should ensure an ‘equitable approach’.

Dame Hakin’s letter read:  ‘We anticipate that the Department and the NHS Commissioning Board would wish to ensure a consistent and equitable approach in relation to PMS agreements.’

Dr Alessi said the NAPC will vigorously fight to keep PMS services as a local, flexible contract tool to manage population health management ‘reflects the essence of NHS reforms’.

He said: ‘The statement within the letter is ambiguous and we are not sure what it means.  We are getting a lot of enquiries from PMS practices who want to know what it means. So we are asking for clarity at this stage, to have some discussion around it.

‘I will be writing to ask for further detail as to what is the meaning of those couple of sentences.’

‘It is a statement that causes concern, especially in this environment, where there already have been over the last few months, a lot of activity around PMS practices, particularly around the performance requirements for these practices changing. On top of there being some turbulence, a letter like that, which is unclear, inevitably leads to increased anxiety.’

Dr Jane Lothian, secretary of Northumberland LMC and a PMS-contracted GP, said: ‘My expectation is that they will question any additional monies to PMS practices then remove them, as they did to us.

‘I struggle to understand how, under these circumstances, we will achieve the goal of moving healthcare into the community. There has not been any appetite for the PMS contract for some time and I don’t see how it can survive this.’

A DH spokesperson said: ‘This Government has been clear, funding paid to all practices should be fair, equitable and consider the additional services practices provide, the performance against quality reward schemes and a fair weighted sum per patient.

‘None of these services should mean the end of PMS contractual arrangements, nor the flexibilities for practices to deliver appropriate services locally.’

Read the full statement from the NAPC here.

Read Dame Barbara Hakin’s full letter here.