A new Primary Care Support England (PCSE) ‘escalation process’ is being trialled by LMCs across England for GP queries that are urgent or have not been resolved within 40 days.
Kernow LMC revealed in an email bulletin to practices last month that it is one of four LMCs taking part in the national trial for queries to PCSE, which is run by Capita.
A number of GPs have raised issues around having queries answered by PCSE, especially involving pension statements, but also other services such as performance list registration.
But under the proposed escalation process, LMCs are able to ‘escalate’ a GP or practice’s query if it has not been responded to within 40 days and there is ‘reason to believe’ resolution is ‘not imminent’.
Writing in the bulletin, Kernow LMC chief executive Emma Ridgewell-Howard said the LMC ‘has been selected as one of four LMCs across England to trial a Primary Care Support England (PCSE) escalation process on behalf of practices and individual GPs’.
She suggested that the LMC had been chosen for the trial ‘possibly as a direct result of being a nuisance’ to PCSE.
Setting out the process, Ms Ridgewell-Howard added that an LMC can ‘escalate’ a query in three scenarios:
- Their constituent GP or practice is ‘experiencing severe financial hardship’;
- There is a ‘potential risk to patient safety’; or
- Their constituent has been ‘waiting for over 40 days since first raising the issue with PCSE, has a valid case reference (CAS) number and has reason to believe that resolution is not imminent’.
Kernow LMC urged practices to get in touch with any queries that fit the criteria in order to test the process.
Pulse understands that the trial is currently underway, but it remains unclear which other three LMCs are involved in the trial and when the trial is due to end.
A spokesperson for Capita said the pilot is ‘going well’ and that it is listening to the LMCs’ feedback’.
They said: ‘As part of our programme of continuous improvement and by working closely with the BMA, we have engaged four LMCs to take part in a pilot to test a potential update to our escalations process.
‘LMCs have a good relationship and understanding of their members and by working collaboratively with them we hope to improve the overall escalation process and user experience. This pilot is going well and we are listening to the LMCs’ feedback on our processes.’
They added that Capita has ‘established collaborative relationships with LMCs across the country’ and they regularly discuss ‘feedback and ideas to improve or adapt our processes’.
However, they did not respond to Pulse questioning about why a new query escalation process was being trialled.
In March, it was revealed that almost 20,000 GP pension records were ‘in error’ and that NHS England is reviewing PCSE services amid ‘administration issues’. GPs were compensated £1.5m for pension contribution errors last year.
And in February, Capita admitted that GPs starting retirement are seeing delays with the processing of their pensions – with one GP planning to retire the following month having waited almost nine months for his application to be approved.
Meanwhile, NHS England announced last month that rules surrounding performers list registration in England have been amended in a bid to reduce bureaucracy for GPs.
PCSE took the performers list application process online in 2019 in a bid to simplify it, but that same year, grassroots organisation GP Survival said it heard of numerous cases where GPs were being affected by performers list issues, including problems with their pensions and even at times being unable to practise.
And GPs warned last year that long-term issues with the performers list registration system in England had not been resolved, and had even ‘gotten worse’.