Irwin Mitchell's Public Law & Human Rights solicitors represented the Partners of a GP surgery against NHS England in relation to the funding of Personal Medical Services (“PMS”) contracts.
Our client had concerns that funding mechanisms adopted by the local Primary Care Trust (and continued by the regional NHS England team after Primary Care Trusts were abolished on 1 April 2013) meant that PMS practices across the region received a proportion of their funding on the basis of a set figure per patient.
Funding mechanism "disadvantaged" patients
Our client had discovered that the per patient figure for its practice was not a standard figure and that different practices across the region received different amounts for their patients. Our client considered this unfair because practices should receive an equal sum for their patients. A number of other GP surgeries also felt that the funding mechanism disadvantaged their patients and we issued a claim for judicial review on behalf of 11 GP practices across the region.
The issue of equal funding between practices remains an important issue, with variations between core funding of PMS practices across the country. PMS funding is currently being reviewed by the Government with the aim of achieving equitable funding for PMS practices. NHS England has recently reported on its review of PMS funding arrangements. Among other findings, the review found that the PMS premium of £325 million is unevenly distributed across PMS practices.
More equitable and transparent funding arrangements
Local area teams now have up to two years, starting from 1 April 2014, to complete the process of reviewing PMS contracts with the objective of achieving more equitable and transparent funding arrangements. One of the PMS review's criteria is to “support fairer distribution of funding at a locality level”. PMS practices within the region are likely to see changes proposed to their contracts.
At the same time, the Government has decided to phase out a funding arrangement called the Minimum Practice Income Guarantee (MPIG) over a seven-year period, beginning in April 2014.
Vulnerable communities at risk
MPIG means many smaller GP practices are guaranteed a minimum level of funding that is not dependent on the number of patients on their list. The chair of the British Medical Association's GPs' committee has warned that thousands could be left without a readily accessible local GP altogether because of the abolition of the minimum practice income guarantee (MPIG). Surgeries particularly at risk were those that often delivered care to vulnerable communities, in rural areas, inner cities or universities with large, transient populations. The campaign group ‘Save Our Surgeries’ has been launched by concerned residents and GPs, with 400 people in east London joining a march in July 2014 protesting against changes they fear could result in local GP surgeries shutting.
For expert advice on matters relating to healthcare law, please contact our Public Law & Human Rights department on 0370 1500 100 or complete our enquiry form.
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