The Optical Confederation (OC) is working with NHS England to ensure practice owners can use a standardised form to claim interest, administrative costs and bank charges on late payments of General Ophthalmic Services (GOS) fees by Capita.
The form for making the claim will be circulated by the OC once NHS England, which has agreed to the process in principle, approves it.
AOP board member, Peter Hampson, told OT that, once ready, the form will make it as simple as possible for practitioners to seek recompense.
“The calculations have been embedded into the form, so all they have to do is fill in how much they are owed and the appropriate rate is calculated. What we want to avoid is any ambiguity over how to claim. If it is a standard form the contractors and Capita know what to expect,” he explained.
Mr Hampson said NHS England showed a little reluctance initially at offering financial redress, “but given the scale of the problem and the insistence from the OC, it wasn't much of an argument.”
He emphasised: “Some people seem to think that we [the OC] have stood idly by whilst this unfolded, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Everyone involved has consistently and robustly challenged Capita at every opportunity and vociferously reminded them of their obligations to GOS contractors.”
Mr Hampson is also urging all practitioners to fill in the user satisfaction survey that Capita will circulate shortly, which is a requirement of their service contract with NHS England.
Practices across the country have been experiencing late and incomplete payments following private company Capita’s takeover of the Primary Care Services England service provision earlier this year.
Capita also had significant issues stocking the necessary GOS forms in some regions, with portal log-in issues and long call waiting times at the company’s customer service centre compounding the problems.
AOP chief executive, Henrietta Alderman, emphasised that following work by the OC and Local Optical Committee Support Unit (LOCSU), among other representative bodies, with NHS England and Capita, the issues experienced by many practices are starting to be solved.
Capita has now recruited more staff and has committed to audit all GOS claims against the payments made at its Leeds office, where the affected GOS under- and over-payments were processed.
In a joint OC statement, Ms Alderman, wrote: “The long waits to get through to the customer service centre, problems logging onto the portal for ordering GOS forms and GOS forms being out of stock in some regions that were common in April and May are being resolved.
“Call answering times are now within target levels and the majority of the portal and stock issues are no longer an issue,” the statement – also by Anthony Garrett of the Association of British Dispensing Opticians, David Hewlett of the Federation of Ophthalmic and Dispensing Opticians and Katrina Venerus of LOCSU – explained.
Anyone still experiencing problems should contact the AOP at firstname.lastname@example.org or their Local Optical Committee for further support.
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