GP practices across England have been forced to review flu and pneumococcal immunisation data manually over the Christmas break to avoid delayed payments, after yet further chaos with the NHS GP data extraction system.
A letter sent by NHS England just two days before Christmas informed practices using EMIS or TPP (SystmOne) they had until midday today to submit all their information – or they would miss out on payment in January.
The letter explained to EMIS practices their November childhood flu immunisation data could be missing altogether, while November payments for seasonal flu immunisations had been miscalculated.
Practices on EMIS and those on TPP(SystmOne) were also informed their pneumococcal vaccination payments had been wrongly calculated.
NHS England said it was working with the GP IT system providers and the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) to sort out the problem – which affects practices across the whole of the country – and would reimburse practices for any shortfall.
But GP leaders said the situation was ‘unacceptable’ for practices that were already struggling with extra workload and under tight financial constraints.
The letter to practices from one NHS England area team, seen by Pulse, warned practices their payments could be delayed if they missed two deadlines. It gave practice until 10am today to get data submitted and then until midday to ‘declare payments’.
It then stated that ‘on receipt of your completed submission forms, we will amend your data for you and email you to inform you that this had been done, you must then declare the payment by midday on 4 January 2016 for a January payment’.
It added that ‘failure to declare by the midday deadline will result in the payment not being made by February 2016’.
An NHS England spokesperson said: ‘We are working with the providers (EMIS and TPP) and the HSCIC to identify the issues and the impact this may have had on any practice which is affected.
‘Once these matters are resolved, any shortfall will be reimbursed to the practice as soon as possible.’
GPC deputy chair Dr Richard Vautrey said it was ‘completely unacceptable that yet again NHS England commissioned IT systems are failing practices and adding yet more workload on to already overworked practice staff’.
Dr Vautrey added that he and other GPC members were ‘hearing from angry and frustrated practice managers who are having to cope with manually reviewing this data in order to secure essential payments’.
He said: ‘When many practices are struggling financially, every penny counts and it’s important that the system supports practices and ensures the cashflow is not compromised by these kinds of payment delays.’
The Health and Social Care Information Centre said in a statement: ‘We continue to work closely with NHS England, EMIS and TPP to rectify these problems and apologise for any inconvenience caused.’
The disruption over immunisation payments comes as many practices are already facing shortfalls of thousands of pounds after delays in payments for the unplanned admissions DES, which were due in mid-November.
The DES payment delays – which have left some practices as much as £10,000 out of pocket – were also partly down to data extraction problems and miscalculations with EMIS and TPP (SystmOne).