Capita should be stripped of PCSE contract 'immediately', say LMCs

Capita should be stripped of its contract to run Primary Care Support England (PCSE) immediately because of its 'unacceptable mismanagement' of GP pensions, LMCs have said.

(Photo: iStock.com/stocknshares)
(Photo: iStock.com/stocknshares)

GP leaders also called on NHS England to pay compensation to any GP affected by pension discrepancies.

Problems with PCSE services, which have been outsourced to Capita since 2015, have seen pension payments delayed for thousands of retired GPs - many of whom have been forced to correct errors made by the company in their own time and out of their own pocket.

Proposing a motion at the LMC’s conference on Friday, Buckinghamshire GP Dr Nicky Turner said Capita was ‘falling well below expected professional standards’ and called for the company to be ‘stripped of its PCSE contract immediately’.

She also urged the GPC to issue a formal complaint regarding Capita PCSE to the Pensions Ombudsman and demanded that GPs and practices  were ‘financially compensated' for any workload or time commitment required to correct errors.

Proposing a separate motion, Norfolk and Waveney LMC's Dr Tim Morton said NHS England must also be held accountable for its role in inaccurate pension payments - dating back as far as 2004. He asked that the organisation ‘rectify any discrepancies as a matter of urgency’ and ‘pay compensation to any GP who has been affected’.

'Unmitigated disaster'

GPC chair Dr Richard Vautrey described Capita’s running of PCSE services as an 'unmitigated disaster' in his opening speech to the conference.

'Perhaps whilst the secretary of state is on a roll he could also try sorting out Capita’s PCSE and the delays with NHS Pensions,' he said. 'How bad can it get before NHS England gets its act together and sorts out a mess that they created? They can outsource a service but they cannot outsource their responsibility.'

Dr Turner told the conference that ‘individual GPs are having to seek extra financial advice in their own time’ to combat Capita’s ‘chaotic’ handling of pensions.

‘There are also problems with unaccounted for funds, sessional GPs opting out of a pension because they were getting no receipts and no record of their payments,’ she said. ‘This makes it on an individual basis very difficult to plan for retirement [and] very difficult to understand tax payments.’

She added: ‘If any other financial institution were to deliver a service that fell below these expected standards, surely the contract would have been taken away by now.’

Dr Alex Freeman from Hampshire and Isle of Wight LMC described Capita’s handling of PCSE services as ‘completely and utterly unforgivable’.

‘I don’t understand why Capita has still got this contract. If you gave them a brewery and told them to host a party, I think all those attending would come out stone cold sober,’ she said.

Both motions were carried by the conference with an overwhelming number of votes.

Outsourcing

A PCSE spokesperson said: ‘We accept that we initially underestimated the complexity of this contract, but we want to get this right so we can save the health service money over the long-term and help NHSE deliver their objective of transforming locally managed, manual paper-based operations into a modern and efficient national customer-focused service.’

The National Audit Office has criticised NHS England over its 'high-risk' decision to outsource primary care support services to Capita in a £330m seven-year deal - warning the move left patients in danger of serious harm.

Most recently, it was revealed this month that Capita had failed to send cervical screening letters to up to 48,500 women in England - a blunder the BMA branded ‘appalling’.

Dr Vautrey said: 'Practices and individual sessional GPs have had to cope with failure after failure, and whilst we’ve managed to sort out many of these problems and get some of the basic systems back on track, now we’ve seen one of [Capita's] worst failings of all, with them not sending out over 43,000 invitations for smear checks and worse, not informing over 4,500 women of their results, potentially leaving some of them at risk.'

The motions in full:

That conference believes that the way Capita Primary Care Support England has mismanaged the GP pension scheme is unacceptable, falling well below expected professional standards and calls:

(i) for Capita to be stripped of its PCSE contract immediately

ii) on the GPC to issue a formal complaint regarding Capita PCSE to the Pensions Ombudsman

(iii) on GPC to demand that any workload or time commitment required on the part of GPs and practices to correct these errors will be  financially compensated for.

That conference believes that following the identification of GP pension earning discrepancies that:

(i) NHS England’s management of GP pensions has been wholly unacceptable

(ii) NHS England must rectify any discrepancies as a matter of urgency

(iii) NHS England must pay compensation to any GP who has been affected.

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