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Trainees barred from practising after NHS admin error

Exclusive More than 40 GP trainees found themselves suspended from seeing patients for up to three weeks after it was discovered that NHS England had not ensured they were included on the performers list.

NHS England has said this was a ‘very rare’ event, and came about because primary care support services in the Thames Valley region failed to file the documentation for 30 trainees to join the the performers list.

The GPC has said that a similar situation occured in the West Midlands, where 14 trainees were affected.

As a result, practices were forced to cancel appointments, while trainees were also threatened with potentially being thrown off the training scheme for not doing enough clinical work.

GP leaders say that the majority of trainees in Thames Valley were suspended for weeks, although NHS England has said ‘many’ were reinstated after one week.

Trainees have three months in which to ensure they are registered on the performers list, a process that is still the responsibility of NHS England and usually managed by primary care support services (PCSS) providers.

But Pulse has already shown practice finances and administration have been disrupted by NHS England’s bid to make £40m savings, by cutting the support services they provide and reprocuring the contract with a single national supplier, Capita, which will take over in September.

Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire LMCs chief executive Dr Paul Roblin told Pulse that ‘around 30 trainees across Thames Valley’ had been affected by the suspension, and that, in most cases, they had been unable to see patients for two to three weeks.

He added: ‘This is NHS England’s responsibility – responsibility for the performers list lies with the medical director and the directors under him.’

Dr Jessica Harris, a GP in Oxford whose trainee originally spotted the problem, said: ‘The immediate impact was on our patients. The trainees had a full schedule of patients booked, so we had to cancel those appointments.

‘We had to find capacity to see more patients and at the same time find useful non-clinical work for the trainees to do.’

She added that the local area team ‘did all it could’ to rectify the problem when it was spotted.

However, she added: ‘Our trainee got a deanery email saying that the RCGP would not accept her doing more than two weeks non-clinical work, therefore if the problem was not resolved within a week, there was a strong possibility that they would suspend her training. She found this pretty stressful.’

Dr Richard Vautrey, GPC deputy chair, said: ‘It is unacceptable that failures in routine processes are stopping doctors from being available to engage in training and treat patients. On a personal level, these doctors are being left in limbo by delays in their registration. This will mean their training could be extended and a potential delay in their qualification date, which only compounds the GP workforce crisis.

‘We are aware of this issue emerging in the West Midlands too, and will be raising this formally with NHS England so they can rectify the issues swiftly and stop this happening again.’

A spokesperson for NHS England told Pulse: ‘On this very rare occasion, for a number of doctors the necessary documentation, to be included on the list, was not completed or not processed in time. Therefore, when this was established, these trainee doctors had to, temporarily, stop seeing patients.

‘NHS England recognises the disruption caused and worked with partners to quickly rectify the situation. In many cases, these young doctors were included on the MPL within a week. This incident is being treated by NHS England as a ‘significant event’… We are confident that such a situation will not happen again.’

In the Thames Valley, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire LMCs have already warned that primary care support functions have been ‘compromised’ by staff losses ahead of the new contract – which will see national performers list functions, GP registrations and medical records handled by a centre in Walsall.

Readers' comments (14)

  • Will NHSE pay for locums used during this time?
    Will GMC recognise workforce pressure if a doctor makes a mistake during this time?
    Will the costs to the wider health service be included in the CV of the manager who 'successfully' made cuts in back office services?

    Thought not.

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  • Peter Swinyard

    Locums used? I thought GP trainees were supposed to be supernumary?
    Shocking incompetence on management of the performers list, prima facie.
    I feel very sad for the young doctors whose introduction to clinical general practice is marred by bureaucratic incompetence and intransigence - but will be a useful learning point for them that this is the pattern for their future careers. Computer says no.
    This is not just a significant event - it is a "never event" and should join all the lost swabs on Jeremy's whiteboard in his office at Richmond House and prompt a call from him to the medical directors and people who run the performers' lists. That'll show 'em !!!!

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  • To err is to be human.No big deal.It will be fixed and things will move on.Incase you haven't noticed the budget cuts have left the area teams grossly under resourced.

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  • @Anonymous | GP Partner | 24 August 2015 10:55am

    Here here

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  • @10.55
    While I agree that the budget cuts already imposed have left the local area teams grossly under-resourced, this has never been consdered in the NHS (at any rate in General Practice) to be any excuse for not carrying out routine tasks even those suddenly considered to be "routine/in your contract" by NHS England.
    I sympathise with the individuals - which appears to be more than the individuals do with GPs! - but not with the system: *will* things improve under Capita? Hard to see how they could get much worse - apart from being "commercially confidential" and no public SLA by which to judge ...

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  • Who will issue a breach of contract notice!

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  • The affected deanery should serve a breach of contract notice and any monetary loss should be recovered through the county court..

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  • Red tape. They worked in ITU or AE and can't see a cold or fungal nail because of a PL. Joke...same NHS patient!

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  • NHSE get more like the Keystone Cops by the day. I feel sorry for the individuals working there, as they have been restructured almost to breaking point. Shocking start to GP for affected trainees, putting them and their training practices under enormous stress. Sadly, this cock up will have affected patients.

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  • so now nhse will ban anyone from working

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