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NHS England still seeking legal advice to reclaim GP seniority payments

by Anna Colivicchi
13 February 2023

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NHS England is continuing to seek recovery of more than £28m it historically ‘overpaid’ GPs in seniority payments, its latest annual report revealed.

It still states £28.4m in cash losses due to overpayments for GP partner seniority payments – the same amount already declared in a report last year.

The service management team is taking legal advice to ‘determine the appropriate actions to take’ in order to ensure recovery of the overpaid sums, the report said.

Adding: ‘GP seniority payments made to GP partners based on individuals’ years of NHS reckonable service, that were paid to the GP practice on a quarterly basis.

‘The payments were calculated based on the GP annual estimated income. This determined whether the GP received payment in full or if the payment was abated to 60%.

‘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.

‘This resulted in GPs receiving payments not aligned to entitlement. Reconciliation exercises to determine GPs’ correct level of entitlement resulted in the overpayments figures that have been reported as part of the cash losses for the year.’

The report said that the consultation process remains ongoing with the legal team and that once it is concluded NHS England will ensure that DHSC and HM Treasury are consulted in order to ‘seek the appropriate approvals’.

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.

A version of this article was first published on our sister title Pulse