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Practices face financial risks as PCSE fails to deliver services

by Léa Legraien
23 October 2017

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Practice managers are facing financial pressures as Primary Care Support England (PCSE) keeps failing to deliver its services.

Derby and Derbyshire Local Medical Committee (LMC) has raised concerns in a letter addressed to Dominic Hardy, the national director of Primary Care.

Cutting costs

The PCSE, also known as Capita, is responsible for delivering NHS England’s primary care support services. Some of its functions include reimbursing GP practices, making GP payments, registering new patients and storing medical records. 

NHS England turned to the private sector in 2015 in a bid to save £40 million and improve administration support services.

But since then, a series of issues has emerged, continuously threatening practices’ sustainability.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, British Medical Association GP committee chair, said: ‘NHS England is ultimately responsible for the chaos caused by trying to cut the cost of this essential service for practices by privatising it and we can now all too clearly see the result, with practices picking up the workload and patients suffering as a result.

Rising challenges

Over the years, the PCSE hasn’t been able to transfer all records for new patients between practices, potentially putting their safety at risk.

In terms of payments, such as superannuation, they weren’t processed, contributing to the GP workforce leaving the profession and pushing practice managers to use their practice budgets to fund their GP trainees’ salaries.

‘Payments are still patchy; a good example was a practice which recently checked their Open Exeter statement two days before their Personal Medical Services global sum payment, £130,000, was due only to find it had been omitted.

‘This risked the financial viability of the practice and places intolerable pressures on partners and practice managers,’ wrote the LMC.

Many practice managers have also been struggling for months to get changes made to the National Prescriber List, forcing them to use workarounds for their GPs, who didn’t receive their prescribing code, to continue to treat patients.

‘Rectifying this whole sorry mess must be the priority.

‘Time currently wasted by practice staff trying to deal with PCSE problems would be much better spent looking at collaborative ways of working and changing for the future in line with the ideals of General Practice Forward View,’ wrote the LMC.