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Practices missing payments as support service woes continue

Exclusive GP practices are missing thousands in payments following the outsourcing of a national primary care support service, Pulse can reveal.

Payments missing in some areas of England include those for enhanced services and seniority payments, as practices continue to suffer fallout in the handover.

The news comes as NHS England’s rescue package for general practice, unveiled last week, pledged a crackdown on the long-running payment chaos suffered by practices.

But woes continue to plague practices, with Norfolk LMC reporting that all GMS practices have missed out on their enhanced service payments that were due in mid-April.

Dr Ian Hume, medical secretary for Norfolk and Waveney LMC and chair of the GPC’s practice finance subcommittee, told Pulse that the problems were related to the handover from the local support service to Primary Care Support England (PCSE) – the new national services run by outsourcing firm Capita.

He said: ’There have been some issues with the transfer over from Serco to Capita, which is very similar to what is happening elsewhere.

’We’re going from a system where everyone knows how it works, where there had been good personal relationships between staff locally, who have suddenly now gone and there’s a lack of clarity on what is going on nationally, and what the new process is.’

He added that NHS England had apologised and said it would ‘cover costs incurred by practices’ as a result of the non-payment.

He said: ‘[NHS England’s] local area team is working constructively with us, and it’s apologetic.’

In West Yorkshire, practices are missing seniority payments. Janet Hallam, practice manager at The Student Health Centre in Huddersfield, told Pulse that they were ’struggling to make contact in regard to pensions at the moment’.

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She said: ’The practice has seniority monies outstanding and we are now having to chase PCSE in this regard.’

In the East of England region, GP practices received an email from the regional NHS England team, seen by Pulse, which said: ‘It has been drawn to our attention that some practices have significant payments missing on the mid-April payment run.’

An East Anglia practice manager who wished to remain anonymous said the delay of ’£8-9,000 in mid-monthly payments’ was ‘a significant kick in the teeth’ for practices ’on the brink of financial meltdown’.

A Capita spokesperson told Pulse that, though payments were now part of their responsibility as PCSE supplier, they had not adjusted payment systems they had inherited and NHS England was still responsible.

Andrew Pike, director of commissioning operations for NHS England East said: ’NHS England would like to apologise sincerely for this omission. This has been an oversight in the handover between our previous provider of patient contractor services provider (Serco) and the new provider (Capita) of a locally negotiated payment mechanism.

‘NHS England is sorry for the inconvenience this will cause practices and will reimburse any bank charges or late payment charges incurred due to this incident.’

NHS England had not responded on payment problems in West Yorkshire at time of publication.

Change worsens payment problems

NHS England’s bid to cut 40% of its £100m annual support services budget saw Capita emerge as the new national provider behind PCSE, with a plan to centralise local offices to three specialised national hubs.

But in recent weeks Pulse has revealed that practices are missing vital supplies including FP10 prescription forms, and blood vials, after significant problems accessing and ordering from Capita’s new supply management portal.

There were also concern that patients could be harmed by significant delays to the collection and delivery of patient notes, particularly in practices with high rates of patients leaving and joining.