In a letter on Friday, April 29, there were a number of issues raised about funding General Practice and the role of NHS West Norfolk Clinical Commissioning Group. Some inaccuracies need addressing.
The review of GP practice funding referred to was a national review carried out by NHS England, the body that currently commissions services from General Practices. CCGs do not hold these contracts, and therefore could not undertake such an exercise. The aim of the review by NHS England was to decide whether it is right to continue to have more than one type of contract with GPs. The majority of practices hold a ‘General Medical Services’ or GMS contract, which covers the comprehensive care provided by all GPs. A new type of contract termed ‘Personal Medical Services’, or PMS, was introduced in 2004 as an option for some practices who wished to develop additional, ‘non-core’ services, such as clinics that might alternatively be provided by a community nursing service. NHS England has been debating for some time this two-tier contract funding arrangement and therefore conducted the review across England and concluded that many of the contracts should be brought back into alignment with GMS funding.
Where NHS England has decided not to continue that funding across the country, they have instructed that the money will be used to purchase services that benefit the whole population. As the GPs on our Governing Body run local practices, we have a duty to ensure they are not involved in any decisions that could be to the advantage of their own practice.
The CCG would not therefore choose to discuss the PMS review at Governing Body, as it was both an item which some of them would be directly affected by and over which the CCG had no power to influence. The CCG has asked all practices to identify any potential impact to the services they provide as this change is phased in over the next four years. Once this is clear, the CCG will certainly have a comprehensive and open discussion including the patients of these practices. The decision to phase out the additional PMS premium funding for these contracts has been taken by NHS England and will not be reversed or consulted upon. The CCG fully recognises the immense pressure that our GP practices are under and we are determined to continue our support for them. There has never been a greater need to reinforce the excellent primary care services across West Norfolk and to keep general practice at the very centre of our local NHS. The publication last week by NHS England of its plan to invest in improved services in General Practice including seven day access where clinically appropriate, will form a major part of the work of the CCG here in West Norfolk. We are already putting in place the means to allow future decisions to be made, without compromising the position of local GP partnerships, to maintain safe care for West Norfolk residents.
Dr Sue Crossman
Chief Officer West Norfolk Clinical Commissioning Group