BMA demands assurances for GPs as Capita share price drops 40%

BMA leaders are seeking assurances over the future of primary care support services run by outsourcing firm Capita, after the company's share price dropped 40% as it announced a major overhaul of its business.

GPC chair Dr Richard Vautrey (Photo: BMA)
GPC chair Dr Richard Vautrey (Photo: BMA)

Capita chief executive Jonathan Lewis has announced that the company has become 'too complex' and requires 'significant change', warning that it is currently 'too widely spread across multiple markets and services'.

The company has suspended dividends, will seek new investment and cost savings - and plans to dispose of non-core parts of its business. The warning triggered a sharp drop in the firm's share price - down 41% according to its website.

Problems for Capita will heighten concern about public sector outsourcing companies following the collapse of Carillion.

GP support services

Many GPs have been deeply concerned about the decision to outsource primary care support services to Capita from the outset, and a recent GPonline poll found that nine out of 10 GP partners had experienced problems with the service over the past year.

Doctors have been unable to work because of delays in adding them to the NHS performers list, transfers of patient records have been delayed and practices have faced cashflow problems because of delayed payments.

GPC chair Dr Richard Vautrey said: 'This news is extremely concerning, but not altogether surprising considering the continued warnings the BMA has given over Capita’s shambolic running of backroom services in GP practices throughout the country. Just this month our own research found multiple failings across all areas operated by Capita in surgeries, including the handling of patient data.

'GPs will be rightly worried about the future of these services – which have a real impact on patient care – and the government must provide assurances of what plans are in place to protect them should Capita suddenly be unable to deliver. With the collapse of Carillion earlier this month, we saw the problems that can arise when public services are outsourced to a private company, and this must not be allowed to happen again.'

Performance

NHS England has said it is 'holding Capita's feet to the fire' over poor performance, and GP leaders have called for the service to be taken back under NHS control.

Capita chief executive Mr Lewis said: 'Today, Capita is too complex, it is driven by a short-term focus and lacks operational discipline and financial flexibility.

'Capita needs to change its approach. I have initiated a transformation programme, appointed a Chief Transformation Officer and formed a new executive committee to drive this change. I believe that this transformation programme can significantly improve the performance of Capita.'

A spokeswoman for Capita told GPonline that the company's restructuring plans would not affect primary care support services. 

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