More and more GPs are being affected by performers list issues, including problems with their pensions and even at times being unable to practise, a GP organisation has warned.
GP Survival – a grassroots member organisation representing the interests of GPs working in primary care across the UK – has said it has heard of numerous cases where Capita had failed to update GPs’ statuses, or even changed details without the GP’s approval.
This has led to GPs having incorrect pensions payments taken from their pay, and facing delays in being able to practise.
As part of its contract, Primary Care Support England – run by Capita – is responsible for administering entry and status changes to the performers list on behalf of NHS England.
Yet since it took over the responsibility, there have been problems in maintaining the list.
GP Survival chair Dr Nicholas Grundy told Pulse that the group has been hearing more problems members around PCSE’s handling of the performers list.
Dr Grundy said: ‘Just in terms of people whose pension information is incorrect, a lot of that appears to come down to performers list problems because it has never been updated.
‘There are lots of people who’ve had their performers list changed without them asking for it to be changed. I think there are particular problems for locum doctors because they get told they have to be on a performers list even when they don’t have an employer and ties in to the problem of underpayments and overpayments.’
Dr Grundy said his practice has also been affected when Capita failed to update their new salaried GP’s performers list status for a year, which means her employer’s pension contributions might have been taken incorrectly during that time.
He said: ‘It’s still a huge problem for pensions and I suppose there’s an underlying question of what it is for. It’s intended to offer access and reassurance from employer that the doctors they’re employing are fit to practise and reassurance for patients that the doctor who are seeing them are fit to practise. But it clearly isn’t doing that because it’s not updated.
‘I don’t think it serves a useful purpose at the moment. We already have the GMC to assure people doctors are fit to practise and we have local performance advisory groups. I just don’t see what the point is, it just seems to be another spanner in the works of administrative lives of doctors. The performers list is a huge problem and it begs the question of why it still exists to me.’
In one case, a GP explained that Capita changed their performers list status without warning, after they moved back and forth between West and South Yorkshire.
The GP told Pulse: ‘I was working in South Yorkshire after I qualified and was on the performers list there. They decided to change it so that I would be on the list where I was living, in Wakefield at the time. A few months later, I ended up working in a salaried job in South Yorkshire, so I ended up changing again to a South Yorkshire list.
‘After that it was a bit of an issue because I don’t know if I was given the right forms to fill in but I ended up moving back to Wakefield. My practice manager contacted them a few times to tell them I should be on the West Yorkshire list and I got a phone call saying there were some discrepancies. I told them I was working in West Yorkshire and assumed it had been sorted. But three years later, when I was doing my type 2 pension form, I got told my performer’s list status hadn’t been updated.’
They continued: ‘Essentially that caused a problem with me completing my pension income. Instead of communicating and saying how to update it they just cancelled it and closed my case. I don’t know how much has been sorted to be honest because it’s difficult to get in touch with the right person and when you do get in touch with someone you always come across some block.’
In addition, the GP said the money they sent to Capita while they were practising as a locum in 2013-15 is yet to be allocated to their pension pot.
They said: ‘My locum pension contributions I sent to them via cheque while I was a locum over 2013-2015, which adds up to approximately £19-20,000, hasn’t been allocated to my pension fund. PCSE are denying it was their responsibility to allocate my pension contributions even though that is their role.
‘I don’t know what the status will be with my pension in the future. I haven’t even been aware of this until recently and only found out by contacting NHS Pensions myself, otherwise I would have no clue at all. I don’t think they’re reliable at all.’
In another case, Scottish GP trainee Dr Jenny Hartley, who intends to start a parnership in England this summer, said she could not apply to join the performers list until she received her Certificate of Completion of Training (CCT) in August, which would have left her without income for almost three months.
According to PCSE guidance, GP registrars are added to the performers list as soon as they finish their training. But the guidance also states that those who apply to join the list for the first time face up to a 12 week wait to have their applications fully processed.
Dr Hartley said she tried to get in touch with Capita multiple times ahead of her transfer but failed to get a reply and even considered looking at the Jobcentre for non-medical work.
She said: ‘Knowing how long it takes and that there might be issues with me moving from Scotland to England, I emailed PCSE with a few queries – multiple times over a five-week period – but without a reply.
‘When I called PCSE after previous no replies, I was told I can’t speak to anyone – I’d have to email. I emailed the complaints team, as it was the only way of getting a reply, and asked if they could start the 12 week process of document checks and gathering references now, hold my application pending until 6 August when my CCT comes through, and then finalise my application that day. They refused to budge.’
She added: ‘As I’m not on the English performers list as a trainee – but on the Scottish one, and I am applying to the English performers list as a principal, I can’t work in either country while my application is pending. This means that from August, I will be without income for 12 weeks, and my patients in my new partnership will be without a seven-session GP as the other partners are dropping sessions. It’s utterly frustrating and at times terrifying to think that I would be without income for so long. I was seriously looking at the Jobcentre for non-medical work I could do for 12 weeks.’
A Capita spokesperson said: ‘PCSE is working closely with NHS England and other parties who contribute to the performance of the end-to-end process for the National Performers List. This is currently a lengthy process with a number of checks and approvals across multiple organisations. To streamline it, we are creating a secure, online system that will address a number of issues inherent in the current paper-based system.
‘This will improve the time taken to process a change request and accuracy, and deliver better transparency around the progress of applications. The new system will ensure pension deductions taken from practices for GPs are updated faster.’