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Qualified GPs ‘sat at home for six months’ amid Capita performers list delays

Exclusive GPs have been impeded from working for six months due to delays to Capita’s management of the National Performers List, Pulse has learned.

Capita advises applicants to allow 12 weeks to complete the registration process and checks, but GPs who completed their training in August told Pulse that they are still forced to turn down job offers because they are not yet on the list.

The affected GPs said they have received no update from Capita about when their status on the performers list will be confirmed, and the BMA said it is seeing increasing numbers of GPs seeking advice on how to approach Capita to claim for lost income.

NHS England said it was aware of ‘some unacceptable delays’ with the performers list but that it was working with Capita on urgent improvements and ‘intervening’ where necessary.

Dr Thanujah Yogarajah, who qualified as a GP in Wales in August last year, had accepted a job offer in England and applied to join the performers list on 22 August.

But amid the delays with processing her application she was forced to return to Wales – where her application was processed within days – to work as a locum.

Dr Yogarajah would have been able to take on hospital work in England while waiting on her registration but she told Pulse: ‘I trained to be a GP. I want to be a GP. I am not going backwards.

‘I’m not trying to blow my own trumpet, but I’m a damn good GP – you can ask any of my Welsh patients. I am not going backwards just so I can live near my parents in London.’

But within hours of Pulse raising Dr Yogarajah’s case with Capita, she had received a ‘sincere apology’ for the delays and notification that her application was being urgently prioritised – though not yet finalised.

This followed months of emails back and forth between Dr Yogarajah and Capita, seen by Pulse.

Meanwhile, Dr Bhavagaya Bakshi contacted Capita on 22 November after receiving her CCT in England.

This should only require a change of status to upgrade to a fully qualified GP but Dr Bakshi told Pulse she is unable to work while awaiting the changes to be process.

Dr Bakshi said: ‘I have been refused employment as a result of not being updated but still paying indemnity whilst I wait.

’This has caused a huge amount of stress and anxiety for me… can you imagine what the public would thinking knowing a GP is sat at home because thier paperwork could not be processed for over four months?’

GPC education, training and workforce lead Dr Krishna Kasaraneni said the doctors were not alone, with BMA seeing a steady stream of calls from qualified GPs who cannot get on the performers list.

He told Pulse: ‘In the last 24 hours, six of them have asked for help because they’re all struggling to get on the list.

‘These are UK qualified GPs who don’t actually need any different checks but the bureaucratic nature of Capita means they are having to go through processes which unnecessarily makes it complicated.’

Dr Kasaraneni said the problems, which come as the short-staffed NHS is ‘desperately to bring GPs into work’, meant GPs were now forced to try to claim compensation for lost income.

He said: ‘NHS England have contracted this to Capita, and Capita haven’t delivered on it. Now the conversations coming up are among individual GPs wanting to take up their cases with Capita for loss of earnings, and that’s something the BMA has to look at.’

An NHS England spokesperson said: ‘We know there have been some unacceptable delays in this process. NHS England has been working closely with Capita to urgently improve services and where necessary, intervening to accelerate progress.’

A Capita spokesperson said: ‘The robust and timely processing of performer list applications remains a key priority for us and we have recently recruited additional staff into the performers list team.

‘Capita is working across the stakeholder community to ensure all parties are fully involved in the process and supporting the supply of all outstanding information in order to complete the process.’

It comes after a whistleblower told Pulse that Capita primary care support centres are staffed by temporary agency staff on low wages, with some lacking basic computer skills.

NHS England vowed in May last year that it would ‘hold Capita to account’ for the array of problems GPs have endured since Capita took on the responsibility for providing primary care support services.

The GPC has called for compensation for GP practices for the issues they have had to deal with. Although health ministers said they had directed Capita to ‘consider’ this it has not yet materialised.

Dr Yogarajah’s quest to join the National Performers List

August 2016: Qualifies as a GP in Wales, arranges a salaried job in London. Submits performers list application on 22 August.

September: Is told her application was not received and needs resubmitting.

October: Is told to submit child protection certification, as Welsh qualification is not suitable.

November: Invited for face-to-face interview to confirm her application documents, qualifications and occupational health status, despite BMA advising that UK-qualified GPs should not have to attend in person to do this.

December: Attends Capita interview and submits references (one of whom is not contacted until mid-January). Told the next step could take ‘six weeks’.

January: Queries status of application, is told it is completed. This turns out to be incorrect.

10 February: Contacts BMA for advice.

15 February: Contacts Pulse. Pulse forwards her details on to the press office (17:34). At 22:02, receives email from Primary Care Support England which says: ‘Please accept our sincere apologies and have marked this as a matter of URGENCY and hopefully will have you PL number very soon.’

Source: Emails between Dr Thanujah Yogarajah and Primary Care Support England/Capita, seen by Pulse.