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GP practices advised to take legal action over late trainee payments

GP practices are advised to take legal action against NHS England and its support service provider unless they are reimbursed for missing trainee payments, the GPC has said.

In a letter to NHS England bosses, the GPC warned it will advise practices to give NHS England and Capita just seven days to pay up, or launch legal proceedings.

The letter, signed by GPC chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul and GPC trainee subcommittee chair Dr Samira Anane, said it was ‘completely unacceptable for practices to take on any financial burden due to problems with pay systems on the part of Capita’.

The continuing problems come despite NHS England ordering Capita back in August to urgently investigate missing trainee payments.

The GPC’s letter urges NHS England’s director of commissioning Rosamund Roughton ‘to seek an immediate interim arrangement to this specific issue, outside of the Capita/PCSE contract’.

It said: ‘We intend to inform practices of their duty to pay trainees within the next 24 hours and will be directing both those practices who have not received accurate pay calculations and those who have not received reimbursement for trainees’ pay, to write to NHS England regional teams and to PCSE to advise them that if this matter is not resolved within seven calendar days that legal proceedings may be issued in the County Courts.’

Dr Nagpaul said GPC met with NHS England about the problems last week but that he was ‘deeply disappointed that the Department of Health failed to attend’.

He said: ‘NHS England needs to get a grip on Capita’s failings urgently and the Department of Health needs to start taking this crisis seriously.’

Dr Anane said: ‘This should be a straightforward process and not the chaotic mess that it has descended into across England.

‘As a valued part of the workforce providing frontline care to patients, GP trainees deserve the respect of having their salaries paid in a timely and efficient manner.’

A Capita spokesperson said: ‘We have taken on this challenging initiative and we have openly apologised for the varied level of service experienced by some service users.

‘We are currently looking to standardise the way payments are processed nationally to ensure practices across the country receive a consistent service.’

An NHS England spokesperson said: ‘NHS England is not the lead organisation for determining policy issues around the payment of GP trainees, however we do want to ensure that all trainees are paid correctly and on tine.

‘We are working closing with Health Education England to resolve this issue and have also asked Capita to again write to practices to explain the process that should be followed to claim reimbursement of the training grant and trainees salaries to ensure reimbursement is not delayed.’

The support service saga so far

Capita was announced as the national supplier of primary care support services last year, and took on the £400 million, seven-year contract, in September 2015 after NHS England slashed its previous budget of £100m a year by 40%.

Practices were reporting ‘significant disruption’ from August 2015, as local offices that delivered support services were rolled up, but this escalated markedly in April when Capita began overhauling services.

Practices have been left without supplies, and with stockpiles of patient notes which Pulse revealed was due in part to NHS England significantly underestimating the scale of records movement they were contracting for.

 A new system allowing practices to send records directly, without being sorted at a Capita warehouse was due to roll out in Spring, but has been delayed over the additional workload implications for practices.

Other changes that Capita is contracted to roll out, including cancer screening administration and national GP ‘ghost patient’ list cleansing drives, have been pushed back while the current problems are addressed.

A Capita survey last month showed GP satisfaction had tumbled from 63% to 21% since it took over the contract, and on Tuesday 8 November MPs will debate the failings in the procurement and delivery of the contract in Parliament.