GPs and practice managers demand answers over PCSE pay and pension system

GPs and practice managers have written to NHS England demanding answers over the new PCSE pay and pension system, warning that issues for users go far beyond 'teething problems'.

BMA GP committee chair Dr Richard Vautrey (Photo: JH Lancy)

GPonline reported last week that as many as 1,000 practices across England were yet to receive QOF achievement payments worth up to six-figure sums in some cases.

A letter from the BMA GP committee and the Institute of General Practice Management (IGPM) to NHS England chief commercial officer Emily Lawson says problems with the Primary Care Support England (PCSE) service are more than just 'teething problems'.

The letter highlights reports of incorrect payments to practices, as well as missing payments or even double payment.

GP funding

It flags problems with incorrect information about pension payments, missing or or vague data - and demands more information and communication about how the problems are being addressed.

The QOF achievement payments - which account for nearly a third of practices' total QOF income - are due by the end of June but had not been received by many practices amid problems with a new online pay and pension system launched at the start of June by PCSE.

The PCSE service, run by private company Capita under an outsourcing contract worth hundreds of millions of pounds over 10 years, launched the online tool to try to improve access to financial records.

However, specialist accountants and the BMA have flagged concerns about a wide range of problems with the service - with some users unable to login at all, while for others data was incorrect or, for example, related to doctors no longer associated with their practice.

Pay and pensions

The letter says improvements suggested by users in a testing phase for the new pay and pension system appear to have been ignored - and that problems for users are 'widespread across all parts of the system'.

It warns that there appear to be 'system-wide issues with data reporting, as well as inconsistencies for individuals' - and that despite raising the concerns with PCSE directly, the BMA and IGPM 'lack the confidence that these are being resolved in a timely manner'.

The letter says: 'We must be confident that the system is able to cope with the volume of data and the processing of payments and that, where issues arise, they are resolved in a timely manner.

'PCSE and NHS England must be more open about the extent of the issues. We need information about the volumes and types of issues/queries being raised, and what PCSE (and NHS England and NHS Business Services Authority) are doing to resolve them. While we receive some information on our regular early life support calls, the information is not complete and very little consistent information about resolutions, if there are any, is shared.

'Similarly, PCSE must communicate more with the profession about how it is resolving system issues raised by GPs and practices. The profession must be made aware of the "fallback" should the system continue to perform at an inappropriate level and/or be unable to continue.'

A Capita spokesperson said: 'We have been supporting GPs and GP practices to use the new service since it launched. We want to encourage anyone who has any queries about the service, or if they are experiencing an issue, to contact us directly so we can help them resolve it.'

Capita has said it provides regular updates to the BMA on problems and work on the new pay and pension system.

NHS England chose not to comment.

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