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NHS England seeking legal advice after £28m in GP seniority ‘overpayments’

by Costanza Potter
7 February 2022

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NHS England is currently seeking legal advice on whether it can recover £28m it has ‘overpaid’ GPs in seniority pay.

NHS England’s annual report and accounts for 2020/21, published yesterday, revealed it incurred £28.4m in cash losses due to ‘overpayments’ for GP partner seniority payments.

The report said: ‘Prior to the commencement of the Capita PCSE contract in 2015, there was inconsistency in the approach to adjustments across the regions, meaning that reconciliation exercises and payment adjustments may not have routinely been undertaken by all areas’.

It added: ‘This resulted in GPs receiving payments not aligned to entitlement.

‘NHS England’s service management team is currently seeking legal advice to determine the appropriate actions to take, in order to ensure recovery of the overpaid sums.’

NHS England said it is now considering ‘how to recover the overpaid sums from GPs when the payments were made to the GP practices’.

It is also considering how to assess whether the GPs in question ‘are still in service in order to enable recovery’, it added.

The letter said: ‘This consultation process remains ongoing with the legal team. 

‘Once it is concluded NHS England will ensure that DHSC and HM Treasury are consulted in order to seek the appropriate approvals.’

In 2019, it was revealed that GPs could receive thousands of pounds of extra seniority pay following revised NHS Digital figures for 2015/16.

Seniority factor payments were introduced as part of the GMS contract in 2004 and were designed to reward GPs’ experience but the 2014/15 GMS contract began to phase them out.

The scheme closed for new applications on 1 April 2014, with the payments completely scrapped from 31 March 2020. 

To qualify for seniority pay, GPs had to have served in the NHS for eight years and earn over a certain amount.

The average seniority payment for GPs in England was £5,033 in 2015/16.

Funds previously used for seniority payments were transferred to the global sum, with 44p per patient coming from seniority pay reinvestment.

Some GPs previously called for the reintroduction of seniority payments to incentivise being a partner.

This story was initially published on our sister title Pulse.

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