Doctors face litany of pension admin failings as compensation issued

Doctors left disappointed

Despite the recent efforts to clean up the scheme’s administration, a history of inadequate administration has soured the relationship with members. 

A damning 2018 report from the National Audit Office found fault with both Capita and NHS England, concluding: “There are problems with the completeness of GP pension records, including missing documents and inaccurate data, some of which pre-date the contract with Capita.” 

Toni Hazell is a GP in London, one of the many affected by PCSE losing great tracts of historical data. She said: “About five years ago, I tried to log on to the Total Rewards screen and got a totally blank screen. It is slightly disconcerting because the NHS pension is second only to my house as my biggest financial investment.

“Capita did a deep dive investigation of it. The money was all eventually found, but it was discovered that I had overpaid for about four years around 2010, about £4,500. In order to sort this out, they sent me what they had on file.”

Ms Hazell said her “obsessive” approach to keeping payslips and other documents allowed her to correct errors in the spreadsheet sent to her, but that she was told that, for everything predating 2010, “unless you send us all your payslips, we can’t do anything. We don’t have that information”.

Her pension record is now up to date but she is claiming compensation. “I spent hours and hours, probably days on this. Trying to scan 15 years of payslips on a home scanner is utterly ridiculous. It is just ludicrous.”

Compensation for years of hassle

A Midlands GP said she was wrongly informed that she had not been a member of the NHS Pension Scheme since November 2016. “I was gobsmacked. I had been paying in thousands of pounds in contributions and all of a sudden I was told I wasn’t a member,” she says.

“I was in tears. I can’t believe you have a system where someone submits thousands of pounds of pension contributions, and you don’t even know where they have gone.

“Fortunately, I had filed all those forms carefully in chronological order. My accountant had to scan those forms in and email them across. We have to prove the money had gone; that was difficult.” 

The problem took two years to sort out, with the GP incurring added accountancy fees of £1,400.

“I still can’t go online and look at my pension statement. I can’t go on Total Rewards and find out what I will get if I retire next year,” the GP said, adding that she has been offered £500 in compensation, but is yet to accept. 

Dr Heath, a GP working in southern England who worked as a locum in 2016-17, said: “You send off these cheques and they don’t give you receipts. You send an email asking ‘can I just check my contributions?’ and they don’t respond.