GPC not ruling out legal action over problems with primary care support

GP leaders could take legal action or ask NHS watchdogs to step in if problems with the primary care support service run by outsourcing firm Capita are continuing at the end of 2017, GPonline has learned.

Dr Krishna Kasaraneni: primary care support concerns (Photo: JH Lancy)

LMCs backed calls for the support service to be returned to public sector control in an early debate at the first England LMCs conference on Friday.

Speaking in a GPC Q&A session at the conference, GPC executive team member Dr Krishna Kasaraneni told delegates that the BMA had 'ruled nothing out' in the fight to restore primary care support to a level practices could accept.

He told the conference that if improvements to the service demanded by the BMA had not materialised by the end of December this year, the union would move beyond negotiations and take action to address the problems.

Read more: full conference coverage

Dr Kasaraneni told GPonline that different steps may be required for different elements of the primary care support service. Pressed to clarify what steps the GPC was considering he confirmed that legal action would be considered and said that for issues such as delays in transferring records, the BMA may 'go down a patient safety route'.

This could mean the union calling in NHS watchdogs such as the CQC or National Audit Office to investigate problems with the service, GPonline understands.

Dr Kasaraneni said the GPC had met internally and was in the process of defining potential actions that could be put into action to address problems with primary care support.

'Simply working with them to find a solution is not the only option,' Dr Kasaraneni said. 'They said issues with the service would be resolved by April but that has come and gone.'

GP compensation

The GPC executive team member told delegates that the BMA would confirm whether a scheme set up to compensate practices for problems with primary care support was still operational.

Last week, the BMA wrote to NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens to warn that patients were being put at risk, GP trainees were being left without pay and GPs were unable to work because of problems with updating the performers list.

A Capita spokeswoman said last week that its takeover of primary care support services was 'a major transformation project to modernise a localised and unstandardised service, which inevitably has meant some challenges'.

It said that concerns set out in the BMA letter did not 'accurately reflect our involvement and responsibilities in Primary Care Support England, nor does it reflect our recent correspondence from NHS England who have recognised the improvements and significant progress being made across services in 2017, which has been demonstrated through improved and increasing customer satisfaction'.

The spokeswoman said: 'We are continuing to transform locally managed operations into a modern and efficient national customer-focused service for NHS England and all primary care organisations.'

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