Around 1,000 GP practices have not received their QOF payments this month, the BMA has said, as Pulse has learned of a host of errors with PCSE’s new online pay portal.
In an email bulletin, the BMA said it has been informed about ‘several concerning issues’ regarding PCSE’s new online pensions service, which launched on 1 June, including ‘disparities in information’, issues accessing certain records and around 1,000 practices having ‘not yet received their QOF achievement payments for this month’.
The BMA said it is ‘extremely concerned’ about the volume of the issues with the new PCSE portal, adding it has ‘emphasised the need for them to be resolved urgently’.
This comes as the BMA has also confirmed to Pulse that it has become aware of other issues around PCSE payments to practices, ‘including discrepancies between payments received and what practices were expecting’, while Pulse has learned that practices in one area have been receiving double payments for QOF in the tens of thousands by mistake.
PCSE launched a new online GP Pensions and Payments service on 1 June, which lets practices view monthly statements and submit payments claims, while also allowing individual GPs to manage their pensions accounts digitally.
Northumberland LMC medical secretary Dr Jane Lothian told Pulse that she carried out a straw poll among practices in her area, and that ‘about a third replied within half an hour who were totally indignant’, as they were facing a multitude of payment issues.
This includes ‘not being able to access their statements, problems getting set up, partial access, payments being deducted or added incorrectly and capitation payments being wrong,’ she said.
She added the problems are ‘all to do with the new PCSE system’ and that practices found the format of the new reports to be ‘difficult to read’.
Liverpool LMC medical director Dr Rob Barnett told Pulse that ‘around 50%’ of practices in his area ‘have been affected in one way or another’ by the PCSE system errors, adding that some have also had issues logging on to the online pensions portal, while others have been able to sign in but ‘haven’t got access to the pensions side of things’.
He said: ‘I’m sure it will resolve itself, but I don’t know when. The bad news is that this is disastrous for practices that are likely to have the financial year end at the end of this quarter, because they won’t have the last month’s information.’
Kent LMC practice management executive Donna Clarke told Pulse that ‘six or seven’ practices alerted the LMC recently to issues with their monthly income statements from PCSE.
She said this includes ‘errors with pension deductions and missing pension deductions for GPs, difficulties working out what the global sum is, and a lack of information on the statement’.
Ms Clarke said, in the Kent area, there have also been issues with certain payments being duplicated for some practices.
She said: ‘We have had a couple [practices] that have been paid for their QOF achievement, which they had already received in a previous pay run.’
She added: ‘It does seem that it is a bit of a coincidence that we moved to the online portal and now we have all of these problems.’
Debra Bell, a practice manager in Kent, told Pulse that her practice received a QOF payment of £28,000 last month, but recently received a statement showing it will receive a repeat payment of £28,000 this month.
Practices also receive an aspiration payment in advance for expected achievement under QOF, but Ms Bell said her practice also mistakenly received two £7,000 aspiration payments for June, instead of one.
She said: ‘The statement came out yesterday. I noticed that it was a very high figure. Being paid £28,000 for QOF achievement when we were paid it last month, that is a major mistake. The problem is that we are going to have to sort the mess out.’
Dr Ian Hume, BMA GP committee member and lead for PCSE issues, said: ‘We’re aware of some issues around payments to practices, including discrepancies between payments received and what practices were expecting, and we are raising these with PCSE. The extent of these problems is unclear at this stage.
He added that GPs and practice managers are ‘understandably concerned’ about this, adding that the BMA is seeking assurances from PCSE that they are being resolved urgently.
Deborah Wood, chairman of the Association of Independent Specialist Medical Accountants (AISMA), said: ‘AISMA fully supports the idea of building a system that allows practices more control of their financial records. However, disappointingly, the launch of PCSE Online has exacerbated the problems GPs and their practices face when interacting with Primary Care Support England.
Ms Wood, who is Healthcare Services Partner at MHA Moore and Smalley, said issues included ‘difficulty in logging onto PCSE Online to access any information’ and ‘inaccurate fee statements which mean practices will have difficulty reconciling monthly payments’.
She also said that pension submissions through the online system ‘do not deal with the legacy problems that remain in the National Health Application and Infrastructure Services (NHAIS) systems’, which would ‘increase the time and effort needed to correct pension records’.
She added: ‘While the launch of any new system will have snags that need fixing, PCSE Online is currently not fit for purpose and AISMA is calling for urgent rectification. In the case of fee statements, this needs to be fixed immediately.’
PCSE is also missing contact information for 6,000 GPs, meaning they cannot sign up to the service, the BMA has said. PCSE has asked those GPs to email or call its helpline to register.
Capita, the private company which runs PCSE on behalf of NHS England, declined to tell Pulse what advice it is giving to practices affected by payment problems.
A spokesperson said that ‘40,000 GPs can now use the new pensions service delivered through PCSE Online’
They added: ‘We have been supporting GPs and GP practices to use the new service since it launched, and we want to encourage anyone who has queries or is experiencing an issue to contact us directly so we can help them resolve it.’