Exclusive Thousands of GPs are unable to access their pension statements after an error which left many of them well undervalued, NHS Pensions has admitted.
NHS Pensions has identified 8,500 pensions statements – the majority of which were GPs’ – which were ‘potentially incorrect’, and it removed access to the records last month.
Accountants have warned that this is ‘unacceptable’ and will prevent GPs from planning their finances, while GPs have said that they are ‘in the dark’ about their final pension.
It comes after a backlog at the NHS Pensions agency earlier this year saw retiring GPs waiting nearly two months to access their pension pots.
NHS Pensions said the problem this time round concerns an error in the ’Total Reward Statement’ (TRS) online portal.
It is affecting GPs who had had ‘officer status’ before 2000 – ie, those who had contributed to the pension scheme while working in a non-medical role.
A spokesperson for NHS Pensions said: ‘We identified that 8,500 statements (for Practitioner members with Officer Status before year 2000) were potentially incorrect and access by these members to them was removed by the end of August.
‘If these members were able to access their statements before they were withdrawn then any pension benefit figures would have been understated.’
NHS Pensions said that it plans to provide correct updated information via TRS in late November or early December.
It said it cannot easily distinguish between different practitioner types on its system but said the majority were GPs.
Chartered accountant Keith Taylor of BW Medical said the glitch would cause a headache for practitioners planning for the future.
He said: ‘It’s a highly specialised area and very complicated. They need to allow professionals to help them but the information for the future is not there. It’s a minefield.’
The TRS portal is ‘really helpful to someone who’s going to retire now’, but he added that the delays meant ‘they won’t know what their pension is. In my view that’s totally unacceptable.’
West London GP Dr Bradley Pearl tried to access his final statement as his retirement date is just weeks away but discovered that his records were missing from the portal.
He said: ‘It seems like I’m not going to be able to get information about my pension. I’m in the dark about my final pension. We can all make a mistake – it’s human, but I am frustrated because they can’t tell me what’s going on.’