GP practices and patients at risk as Capita problems continue, warns LMC

Patients are being put at risk and GP practices' financial viability threatened by continuing problems with the primary care support service provided by Capita, an LMC has warned.

Patient records awaiting transfer (Photo: Dr Irfan Malik)
Patient records awaiting transfer (Photo: Dr Irfan Malik)

In a letter to NHS England, Derby and Derbyshire LMC warned that more than 18 months after taking over Primary Care Support England (PCSE), problems with the service run by private provider Capita are continuing to cause 'overwhelming destabilisation' to general practice across England.

The LMC warned that patients were being put at risk by delays in transferring records between practices, undermining practices' ability to guarantee patient safety and data protection.

Practices are being put at risk because delays and errors with vital payments are threatening their cashflow, the LMC warned, while mishandling of pension payments is also having a destabilising effect.

Global sum payment

One practice recently discovered a £130,000 global sum payment had been omitted from a statement detailing funding it was about to receive, the LMC says, while many practices are still owed 'several thousand pounds of training grants'. One practice saw an entire year's worth of superannuation payments deducted with no notice - a move the LMC says would have left a smaller practice unable to cope.

Delays in updating the national performers list have also left practices forced to implement 'workaround' solutions for GPs who have not received prescribing codes, Derby's GP leaders warned.

As far back as this year's annual LMCs conference in May, GP leaders called for NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens to be held to account for failings with the outsourced primary care support service.

But the Derby letter says that local PCSE staff have suggested the service is not likely to improve substantively in 2017, meaning problems are likely to continue through what is expected to be a tough winter for the NHS.

Capita did not respond to a request for comment. NHS England said: 'We have received correspondence from Derby and Derbyshire Local Medical Committee, a response will be issued to the LMC in due course.'

NHS England later added: 'Capita are under formal contract rectification, and the issues raised in this Derby/Derbyshire letter will be taken up with them direct.'

GP complaints

GPC chair Dr Richard Vautrey told GPonline that improvement had been promised repeatedly but failed to materialise. 'LMCs are receiving daily complaints about practices getting the wrong payments, or no payment, and spending an inordinate amount of time chasing payment,' he said.

'The BMA is receiving lots of complaints, and when we take them up we get resolution – but by now the system should be working and providing the support service as it was a couple of years ago.'

Dr Vautrey revealed that the BMA is developing template letters similar to those used to help practices push back against the inappropriate transfer of work from secondary care. 'We are developing similar letters to empower practices when Capita fails,' he said.

The GPC chair added: 'We raised it this week with very senior NHS managers about how unacceptable the service is. The service is unacceptable - some practices have had major cashflow problems.

'We can usually get cases resolved but shouldn’t have to do that. Creating this significant hassle for practices is unacceptable on a day-to-day basis. This has been going on for 18 months or longer and assurances of improvement have failed to be delivered. NHS England needs to step up and take a serious look at the contract with Capita.'

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