The commissioner is considering compensation for primary healthcare professionals who have been left out of pocket by failures by its contractor Capita, it said yesterday (January 4).
"Representative bodies" have made the case for compensation to NHS England, a spokesperson told C+D, and raised concerns about "issues" that have arisen as a result of Capita’s failings to adequately deliver key services.
“NHS England is conscious that concerns have been raised about costs and extra workload as a result of these issues. This is currently under discussion."
“Where appropriate, we will consider impacts on eligible organisations, including pharmacies,” it added.
Capita is paid by NHS England to deliver support services to pharmacies, as well as to general practices, optometrists and dentists.
But since beginning the contract in September 2015, Capita has been dogged by complaints about poor service, lengthy delays, and failure to meet key targets, which contractors claim has left them thousands of pounds out of pocket.
Last year, the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) was forced to “escalate concerns” from local pharmaceutical committees (LPCs) about failures by Capita. The company offers services such as delivering electronic prescription service (EPS) tokens, as well as processing drug tariff payments and market entry paperwork.
At the time, Capita told C+D it had faced "challenges", but was "working closely" with PSNC to address the issues.
GPs get their case heard
Meanwhile, GPs had their case for compensation made directly to the government.
In the final parliamentary health questions session of 2016, Conservative under-secretary for health Nicola Blackwood MP responded to a question from Labour MP Kate Green on compensation for GP practices by telling MPs the government “is looking into what inconvenience and costs” GPs, dentists and optometrists have suffered as a result of poor performance by Capita.
But she made no mention of a similar promise for pharmacists.
When C+D pressed for further details, the Department of Health told it that ministers are aware of concerns raised by a number of healthcare providers – including community pharmacies – but that reimbursement is a matter for Capita and NHS England to conclude.
Contractors told C+D their attempts to gain compensation had fallen on deaf ears.
Graham Phillips, superintendent pharmacist of Manor Pharmacy Group in Hertfordshire, said he had gotten “essentially nowhere” in his attempts to resolve outstanding issues.
His requests for compensation for time wasted had also received “zero response”, he told C+D.
Tony Schofield, a contractor in South Tyneside, told C+D it had taken Capita nine months to process the paperwork to transfer ownership of a pharmacy, while an ongoing second application has overrun by several weeks.
“I wouldn’t know how much this should have cost me and I’m not going to investigate as I can’t imagine how long that would take to resolve,” he said. “I don’t want compensation – I want a service that works.”