Doctors are up in arms over a history of pension administration shortcomings in the lumbering NHS Pension Scheme, some of which are still surfacing.
Capita, responsible for the delivery of NHS England’s primary care support services since September 2015, has been accused of a litany of failings.
According to the British Medical Association, these include processing errors leading to incorrect allocations and records of contributions, locum GP pension payments not being made on time, and employer contributions being deducted for staff that have already left.
GP trainees not being enrolled to the scheme on time, and members suffering tax implications of incorrect records are also cited among grievances with the scheme.
NHS England and Primary Care Support England have promised improvements in response to recent outcry. However, services still fall short, according to the BMA and others.
Dr Nick Grundy, chairman of GP Survival said: “I know of dozens of cases where information has gone missing, and where members have been left unable to understand their pension position, their tax liabilities, or plan for their financial future.”
Dr Grundy believes this is due to the rapid closure of local pension offices dealing with scheme administration after Capita took over the contract in 2015, at which point information may have been lost.
He added the scheme’s online portal “doesn't work, meaning many doctors sent forms in by post”.
Cash unaccounted for
Dr Grundy suggested lost forms from postal processes had led to a situation first reported by GP publication Pulse, where a large amount of unallocated pension contributions was revealed to be sitting in NHS England bank accounts. Capita has said it works to solve any payments submitted without a clear reference number.
Locums had the worst experience. Dr Grundy said: “If they work four different practices in a month, they have to submit five forms each month — ie, 60 a year. A proportion of these inevitably go missing because the system is so dysfunctional.”
Some GPs have been asked to find payslips from 20 years ago. “The problem is absolutely rife,” he concluded.
In response to the claims that problems are ongoing, a Capita spokesperson said: “PCSE continues to work closely with NHS England and NHS Improvement, and other partners, to improve GPs’ pension records.
“Historically, it has been challenging for GPs to submit the correct information, and we would receive forms that were filled in incorrectly or with data missing. PCSE will always work with GPs to correct these issues and help get their records complete.”
The spokesperson added: “Last year, we launched an amnesty with NHSEI that allowed GPs to submit missing certificates from their pension records going back 15 years.
"This was a successful project and more than 65,000 certificates were provided to bring GPs’ records up to date, but the amnesty continues as there are still certificates outstanding and we would encourage GPs to submit these to us.”