Earlier this year, Capita announced a three-year extension to its primary care support services contract with NHS England. Pulse’s recent investigation has analysed the performance of Capita’s service delivery arm Primary Care Support England (PCSE), how it has affected GPs and patient care, and the justification for the extension. As part of this we spoke to GPs about their experience with the organisation. These are their stories.
A GP in Yorkshire went off sick in 2016, severely unwell with an illness that left him bed bound.
When he came to apply for ill health retirement just over a year later, he discovered PCSE held no record of any of the pension contributions he had made since starting work in general practice, despite this information having been supplied by his employer throughout the employment.
The practice – which did much of the work on his behalf to get this resolved as he was too unwell – had to resend PCSE copies of ‘every single payslip’ from his 18 months in the role.
‘It just took PCSE forever and three or four copies of everything we sent them before they did anything at all. It was only when the case was raised with NHS England that anything began to move. Prior to that all our complaints and emails had just been disappearing into the ether,’ he tells Pulse.
It took six months before the GP’s case was resolved and he received his pension. As a result of the delay, he had to rely on benefits and the support of medical charities.
‘Having not been working and my wife having taken most of that time off work to look after me, we were really struggling financially. We were living on universal credit, which is never ideal, and we had no idea how much pension I would get or when I would get it,’ he says.
‘It was massively hard…I was anxious, frustrated and largely too ill to do very much about it.’
In December 2020, another issue arose. The GP was informed by PCSE that he had been overpaid by £1,500 and had to pay it back, due to a discrepancy with the date when his pension was due to start from. The GP repaid the money, but later discovered that he didn’t owe the full amount.
‘When I challenged them and asked what was going on, PCSE spent about four months saying it was the practice’s fault because they hadn’t confirmed my start date, but the practice had confirmed this several times…and then they just stopped answering my emails completely.’
The GP made a formal complaint the following November and in January this year he finally received confirmation that he only owed around £50. It took PCSE a further six months to refund the money.
‘For someone who is not largely living on benefits then £1,500 may not sound like very much, but my pension was so low that we are still living off benefits, so that was a lot of money to us.’
He adds: ‘I think the biggest frustration is that PCSE don’t seem to have any way of keeping their records straight and of dealing with things or passing messages between their own teams…and short of making a formal complaint they just seem to completely ignore you.’