Capita stripped of cervical screening contract

Capita is to be stripped of its contract to run the administration side of the cervical screening programme and the service will be brought back in house, NHS England has announced.

Correspondence delays (Photo: Mark Goddard/Getty Images)
Correspondence delays (Photo: Mark Goddard/Getty Images)

Speaking at a public accounts committee hearing on adult health screening yesterday NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens said he had not been 'satisfied' with how the private company had been delivering the service and that it would be moved back to the NHS from the beginning of June this year.

The move follows failures by Capita that resulted in thousands of women not receiving correspondence relating to cervical screening. In November 2018, Capita admitted that between January and June that year 4,508 letters about screening results had been delayed, while 43,200 women who should have received an intivation and reminder letter about screening were sent one or the other but not both.

A 'thorough review' following the discovery revealed that a further 3,591 items of correspondence had not been sent in 2017. In both cases the failures were a result of the correct process for uploading, organising and checking datafiles not being followed.

Mr Stevens said: 'We have not been satisfied with the way in which [Capita] has been performing. Therefore today I am announcing that we are bringing the cervical screening service back in house to the NHS from Capita beginning June and then a phased transition through the rest of the year.'

Primary care support services

Capita's role in the cervical screening programme is part of its contract to run Primary Care Support England, which is also responsible for payments to GP practices, the performers list and administering GPs' NHS pensions.

The BMA welcomed NHS England's decision and repeated its call for it to remove all primary care support services from Capita and bring them back in house.

GPC exceutive member Dr Krishna Kasaraneni said: ‘We have long been raising concerns about Capita’s frankly shambolic running of GP support services.

‘It is only right that NHS England has followed through and removed this service from Capita, and now any transition process must be robust and not be done as a cost-cutting exercise at the expense of patient safety.

'Furthermore, we know there are still fundamental ongoing issues with Capita’s delivery of other backroom functions – including the transfer of patient records, pensions administration and payments to practices – and we demand that NHS England ultimately takes responsibility for all of these shortcomings, and brings these back in-house as well.'

A Capita spokesperson said:  'Returning administrative support of the cervical screening programme in England in-house is consistent with the approach in all other national screening programmes and will enable better integration across those programmes. We support NHS England’s decision as part of its broader review of screening services, and we will work together to ensure a seamless transition.'

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