asked Her Majesty's Government:
Why the Northumberland Care Trust is cutting its financial support for the enhanced primary care services in Wooler, Northumberland, thereby requiring patients to make 80-mile round trips to an NHS hospital, bearing in mind the Government's community-based care policy. [HL1643]
It is appropriate that the Northumberland Care Trust reviews its personal medical services (PMS) contracts to ensure value for money. All primary care organisations in the north-east are looking to ensure that contracts deliver value.
The proposals that have been brought forward by the Northumberland Care Trust are not about closing individual practices. The aim of these proposals is to ensure the continuity of the existing general practitioner (GP) services and, subject to agreement being reached, this will set a good foundation for the further development of primary care services for the benefit of patients across Northumberland.
PMS contracts, including the terms of these contracts, are negotiated locally between primary care trusts and GP practices. It would not be appropriate for the department to become involved in these local negotiations. However, if a practice is unhappy with any of the proposed terms of the contract that is being offered to it, it can raise this through the contractual dispute resolution processes that are set out in legislation.