Delay on contract changes

SUFFOLKS GPs have been given a three-month reprieve before being forced into dramatic contract changes which could see some practices go private.contracts.

SUFFOLKS GPs have been given a three-month reprieve before being forced into dramatic contract changes which could see some practices go private.

The Suffolk Primary Care Trust (PCT) is currently in negotiations with the 46 practices in the county which have contracts with them, called Personal Medical Services (PMS) contracts.

Practices have so far refused to sign the PCT's revised contracts, which instruct them to carry out medical procedures not all GPs are trained for, and which make procedures which are currently voluntary, such as minor surgery, compulsory

The Local Medical Committee (LMC), which represents GPs, today revealed that the PCT has extended the termination of current contracts from September 31 until December 31.

Bill Robinson, from LMC, said: “This gives us more time to negotiate. It's a welcome programme and we have expressed our thanks to the PCT.

“Letters have gone out to all the practices and I expect all of them to accept the extension.

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“It gives us breathing space as the end of next week was going to be the cut off point for practices to decide if they were going to opt out of the new contract. Not knowing what the new contract is would have made that decision difficult.

“We aren't sitting back on our laurels, will continue negotiations and hope to conclude discussions with the PCT by mid July.

“Then we can get details out to practices and they have time to consider them.

In March, the PCT wrote to GPs with PMS contracts and offered them the option of signing new contracts or “withdrawing from NHS primary care”.

It was feared a new contract would see a substantial drop in money given to them to provide care for patients, and could see doctors tempted to go private.

Figures released in February revealed the average GP is earning £102,000 a year.

The PCT said it is mindful of GP concerns but that the new contract would bring significant benefits to patients.

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