The Optical Confederation (OC) and Local Optical Committee Support Unit (LOCSU) have expressed serious concerns about the “failures” of private company Capita’s new Primary Care Support England (PCSE) service provision.
Practices have struggled with service registration, and have also reported issues with form delivery and payment administration.
The organisations – and the AOP as an OC member – have been advocating on behalf of practitioners to Capita and NHS England, AOP board member, Peter Hampson, told OT.
He explained: “The continued disruption to optical practices caused by the failure of Capita’s processes has placed many practices in a position of financial uncertainty. The late and disrupted payments have the potential to push an already-squeezed profession beyond breaking point.
“The stakeholder representatives have stressed this in the strongest possible terms to Capita and NHS England. AOP members can be assured that while we cannot physically force Capita to perform better, we are reminding both them and NHS England of their obligations at every opportunity and we will continue to do so until Capita gets it right,” he emphasised.
LOCSU managing director, Katrina Venerus, told OT that: “In March and April a significant number of ophthalmic contractors were not paid in full for the claims submitted and some received no payment at all.”
She added: “The PCSE customer support centre has not been able to deal with the high volume of email and telephone enquiries and, as a consequence, queries are taking far too long to get resolved. The overall service contractors are receiving is well below the expected level.
“We will continue to monitor the situation daily until we are certain that the promised recovery plan has been fully implemented and the service is back on track,” she emphasised.
NHS England and Capita have agreed on a recovery plan, which includes a requirement to increase the number of staff members dedicated to answering ophthalmic queries, Ms Venerus said.
A Capita spokesperson said: “We are closely monitoring our operation to respond to and address users’ feedback. We are working closely with NHS England and proactively engaging key stakeholders, including colleagues from LOCSU, to ensure the delivery of these services.”
Because of stock issues with general ophthalmic services (GOS) forms, good-quality photocopies of sight test and voucher forms will be accepted by the Department of Health and NHS England over a two-week period to ensure that practitioners can continue to see patients while stock is being delivered, a LOCSU advisory said.
To find out more, the telephone number for the PCSE customer support centre is 0333 014 2884.