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 Gloucestershire told Pulse he decided to retire in February this year and sent his AW8 to PCSE in November 2021, in line with the three-month timescale required. It has taken the best part of 10 months to receive his pension, with this finally coming through at the end of September.
‘I thought I was going to be a fairly speedy case because I checked, and got my accountant to check, my total rewards statement at the end of 2020 and it was all up-to-date,’ he tells Pulse.
PCSE first confirmed receipt of his AW8 in December 2021 but after responding to their initial request for further information, the GP then didn’t hear anything more until April this year. He says PCSE got in touch again asking for more information, which he sent back to them the same day. Four days later he received another email from PCSE, asking him to provide the same information again.
‘I thought we must have crossed emails so didn’t think anything of it, but then at the end of April I got another email telling me that if I didn’t send the information within the next few weeks then my pension wouldn’t be processed. I found this alarming considering I had sent it four weeks before.’
After resubmitting the information, the GP then didn’t hear anything until mid-June, when he received an email asking for details of his last day of work, the date he was taking retirement, and the date he was returning to work, in order to process 24-hour retirement. But the GP had already provided these dates and had made it clear to PCSE that he was taking full retirement.
‘I got an email back later that day apologising for their error and saying that my AW8 had been sent to NHSBA…I phoned NHSBSA a couple of days later and they hadn’t received it.’
After chasing this up with PCSE, the GP contacted NHSBSA again and discovered PCSE had only provided them with his AW8 form and no other necessary information. But even more concerningly, NHSBSA could not process his pension because PCSE hadn’t changed his status to retired.
‘I got a letter from NHSBSA stating that they had tried to email PCSE three times asking them to amend my file so that they could access it, PCSE hadn’t, so they were basically giving up.’
‘At this point I was feeling rather frustrated, so I made a complaint to the complaints department. I got an email back the same day saying they didn’t accept my complaint because I hadn’t complained directly to the pensions department and given them a chance to rectify the issue.’
The GP made a complaint directly to the pensions department, which still remains unacknowledged, leaving him no choice but to make a second complaint directly to the complaints department again. It was only after this that his status was amended. He finally received his pension and lump sum at the end of September – seven months after retiring.
‘I had some savings immediately to hand which I lived off for the first few months and then I didn’t really want to touch my investments, so basically for the last three months my other half has been supporting me…I have financed myself my entire life and it felt very galling not to have an income.
‘It has changed me. The last three or four months I’ve basically not done anything, I’ve not wanted to spend money, I’ve not socialised, because all the time I knew I was eating money I didn’t have.’
The GP is still awaiting a response to their complaint but has received no apology or explanation for the delay in receiving his pension and the impact this has had on his life.
‘It’s definitely stressed me out, it’s made me cry quite a few times, I’m quite a resilient person – I think you have to be to have been a GP for 25 years – but it’s made me feel really depressed.’
He adds: ‘It makes you feel like you’re asking for something you don’t deserve, it’s as if you’re there, cap in hand, asking for something. Whereas it is something I’ve paid for, it’s mine and yet it’s been a battle to get it…this is their job, the pensions department is supposed to be processing forms and helping you get your pension, and you don’t feel that they are working with you.’