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Explanatory Memorandum to Primary Medical Services (Northern Ireland) Order 2004

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4.Current legislation places Health and Social Services Boards under a duty to make arrangements with medical practitioners for the provision by them of personal medical services for all persons in the area who wish to take advantage of such arrangements, which are known as “general medical services”. A Board has no power under existing legislation to provide general medical services itself, but this Order introduces provisions that will enable it to discharge its new duty by providing such services itself or by securing their provision by others, according to which is the most appropriate to local circumstances

5.The Order will also insert provisions into the 1972 Order which will govern the terms and content of the new GMS contract and those who may provide or perform primary medical services under such a contract. These provisions also contain broad regulation-making powers which will be used to set out the detail of the rights and obligations of the new contract.

6.The new contract is for providers of general medical services. However, the changes in the legislation required to effect these changes have implications for the legislative and contractual arrangements applying to what are currently known as “personal medical services” (PMS), and the Order makes provision for these. PMS is the system for delivery of personal medical services introduced by the Health and Social Services (Primary Care) (NI) Order 1997. PMS was conceived to operate in parallel with general medical services and allowed for more flexible arrangements whereby, rather than be remunerated via the usual system of fees and allowances, a participating practice could agree a contract directly with the Board, specifying the services it would provide and pricing those services

7.The Order will also create a power to prescribe those who can enter into a contract, the policy intention being that those being given a contract are fit and competent people to carry out this sensitive and important work.

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