Fourteen trainee GPs in the West Midlands were suspended after an ‘unacceptable’ admin failure by NHS England, leaving them unable to work for weeks.
At a time when doctors’ surgeries are already stretched to the limit, practices were forces to cancel appointments as trainees were not legally allowed to treat patients, as they had not been registered on the Performers List.
The admin glitch also left GPs threatened with being thrown off the training programme as they had failed to clock up enough hours to pass the course.
The failure also saw 30 GPs in the Thames Valley area suspended for weeks, in what NHS England called a ‘rare’ event.
But Dr Richard Vautrey, GP deputy committee chairman at the British Medical Association said the incident had served to “compound the GP crisis”.
He said: “At a time when general practice is buckling under pressure from rising patient demand, falling resources and staff shortages, we need to ensure every potential new GP is given the best training opportunities possible so they can deliver first rate care to patients in the future.
“It is unacceptable that failures in routine processes are stopping doctors from being available to engage in training and treat patients. On a personal level, these doctors are being left in limbo by delays in their registration.
“This will mean their training could be extended and a potential delay in their qualification date, which only compounds the GP workforce crisis.”
The blunder comes after almost £40 million of cuts to the Primary Care Support Services budget , that deliver services to process GP payments and contract management.
The PCSS contract has now been streamlined to one national supplier Capita, which take over next month.
But NHS England told the Post that it was confident the incident would never happen again.
A spokesman said: “On this very rare occasion, for a number of doctors the necessary documentation, to be included on the list, was not completed or not processed in time.
“Therefore, when this was established, these trainee doctors had to, temporarily, stop seeing patients.
"NHS England recognises the disruption caused and worked with partners to quickly rectify the situation. This incident is being treated by NHS England as a ‘significant event’.
“A review of all the steps involved in the inclusion of GP trainees on the MPL has been undertaken and an amended protocol agreed with all the agencies involved in the MPL process
“In many cases, these young doctors were included on the MPL within a week. We are confident that such a situation will not happen again.”