NHS England has launched a review of all GP pensions data after ‘discrepancies’ were discovered between the data held for pensionable earnings and those for pension contributions.
In a message sent from NHS England and NHS Business Services Authority (BSA) to all GPs who pay into the pensions scheme, GPs were told quality assurance checks on the scheme uncovered a sample of data with the discrepancies.
NHS England is now ‘carrying out a complete review of all data led by an independent pensions expert’ and will prioritise ‘records of any GPs who are nearing retirement age (56 or over), GPs who have recently retired and GPs who have died in service’.
This comes after NHS England identified ‘significant issues’ with GP pension records dating back more than a decade, although a letter from the BMA to GPs at the time said it was unclear what specifically the issue related to.
The letter, which Pulse has seen, said: ‘As part of NHS England’s quality assurance of the pension scheme records, a small sample review has been carried out which has shown discrepancies between some of the pensionable earnings and contributions data which has been provided to NHS BSA.’
It added: ‘NHS England is carrying out a complete review of all data led by an independent pension’s expert who has been jointly appointed with Capita.
‘This review may take some time to complete, so as a matter of urgency we will prioritise the records of any GPs who are nearing retirement age (56 or over), GPs who have recently retired and GPs who have died in service.’
Private provider Capita has been responsible for the administration of GP pension contributions since September 2015, under the Primary Care Services England (PCSE) contract.
An NHS England spokesperson said: ‘An independent expert has been appointed who is working with NHS England, Capita and the NHSBSA to look at the detail of this and tackling any discrepancies. We are contacting GPs and helping resolve any issues.’
They added that if the review shows any discrepancy in a GP’s data NHS England will contact them with clear advice on what to do next.
However, Dr Richard Vautrey, BMA GP committee chair, said GPs ‘will understandably be very concerned to learn that they may have been affected by this administration error’.
He added: ‘While the announcement of a review and the commitment to ensure every GP gets their correct pension payment is welcome, we will continue to press NHS England to urgently assess the nature and scale of the problem, and communicate promptly to those impacted…
‘GPs may be forced to seek additional financial advice, and it is imperative that they are reimbursed for any expenses incurred through no fault of their own.’
GPs have had longstanding pensions issues. In January of this year, the BMA said it would support practices in taking legal action against Capita, saying the issues, relating to patient record transfers and processing payments, were ‘unacceptable’ and had gone from ‘bad to worse’.
In March the BMA said it had submitted freedom of information requeststo NHS England regarding alleged ‘unallocated’ GP pensions money and the following month the BMA said it was seeking legal advice over the annualisation of pensions, claiming the process was ‘unfair’.
Pulse has approached NHS BSA for comment.