Payment service rescue plan must deliver, insist optical leaders

15 September 2016

Optical sector leaders have made it clear to NHS England and Capita that the latest plan to turn around the ophthalmic payments service must not fail.

Leaders demanded crunch talks to highlight the acute problems the chaos was causing the sector and to hear NHS England’s plans for the improvement of the Primary Care Support England (PCSE) service, delivered by Capita. 

In a letter to the sector following urgent discussions on 30 August, NHS England apologised for the failures in the services. Karen Wheeler, the NHS England director responsible for overseeing the contract, provided assurances that Capita were being held to account for their unacceptable service levels and confirmed that financial penalties had been applied.

She confirmed that she has also been working with Capita at CEO level to ensure there is now better focus and additional resources going into driving recovery across PCSE. The NHS England director said she expects Capita’s operational improvement plan to stabilize the ophthalmic payments service by the end of October and for all residual issues to be resolved by the end of the year.

Speaking on behalf of the optical sector, Katrina Venerus said: “We welcome the honesty from NHS England to accept there have been unacceptable service failures and to apologise for the difficulties and pressures these have added to optical contractors and professionals in England.

“We have seen Capita’s plans and we will maintain week-by-week scrutiny to verify improvements are in line with the recovery plan. We will continue to keep the sector informed as usual via LOCSU Hot Briefs.”

The optical sector has also demanded immediate action to address current delays in processing performer list applications, especially for newly-qualified optometrists, which has had an unacceptable impact on the profession.

Venerus added “It is essential that the plans to get the ophthalmic payments service and performer list service are fully implemented as soon as possible and we will continue to review progress with PCSE and NHS England on a weekly basis until the service has recovered.”

Follow the link to read the full text of the letter on the NHS website: www.locsu.co.uk/uploads/press_releases/letter_to_optical_confederation_060916.pdf

NOTES TO EDITORS

LOCSU and the Optical Confederation have had an exchange of correspondence and associated press releases that explain the background to the issues over the delivery of the Primary Care Support Services. These can be accessed via the following links:

7 September 2016 letter from LOCSU and Optical Confederation to NHS
www.locsu.co.uk/uploads/press_releases/letter_to_optical_confederation_060916.pdf

16 August press release
Optical sector 'still not satisfied' following response from NHS chief
http://www.locsu.co.uk/communications/news/?article=187

16 August letter from LOCSU and Optical Confederation to NHS
http://www.locsu.co.uk/uploads/pcse/karen_wheeler_letter_from_locsu_and_the_oc.pdf

3 August press release
Optical leaders slam 'shambolic' Primary Care Support Service
http://www.locsu.co.uk/communications/news/?article=186

29 July 2016 letter to Simon Stevens from Optical Confederation: http://www.locsu.co.uk/uploads/press_releases/simon_stevens.pdf

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