General practitioner England

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GP funding guidance may threaten services, says BMA

Guidance on redistributing general practice funding will exacerbate pressures on surgeries and could threaten patient services, the BMA has warned.

Chaand Nagpaul Arm 2013The warning comes after NHS England published guidance for its area teams on how to achieve equitable funding levels for PMS (primary medical services) practices.

From April, area teams will begin reviewing PMS contracts and will be particularly looking at the ‘premium’ element of funding — how far PMS expenditure exceeds the equivalent items of GMS (general medical services) expenditure.

NHS England says it wants to ensure that this premium — worth £325m a year — is being spent on services that go beyond core national requirements. It says it could only find evidence that £67m of this funding was being used on defined enhanced services or key performance indicators.

The move is part of plans to redistribute funding across general practice, which includes phasing out the minimum practice income guarantee for GMS practices.

Uncertainty prevails

But BMA GPs committee chair Chaand Nagpaul (pictured above) said the guidance from NHS England would not address the uncertainty that many GPs felt about this process and could threaten their ability to make plans for future patient services.

He said: ‘The BMA believes that removing a pot of PMS resources from core GP budgets will exacerbate pressure on GP practices. This money should instead have been directed into core GP practice funding across the profession.

‘This uncertainty, coupled with local negotiations between PMS practices and area teams, will further undermine GPs’ ability to make long-term decisions about how they plan patient services for the future.’

The GPC is deeply concerned about arrangements being left to local decisions by area teams.

The NHS England guidance says, where funding does need to be redeployed, area teams should ‘decide on an appropriate pace of change that takes into account the impact on services to patients and the individual practices affected’.

 Read the NHS England guidance

 Read about equitable funding

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