Solve Capita problems now to keep patients safe, BMA warns Simon Stevens

Patients are being put at risk because 'shambolic' primary care support services run by outsourcing firm Capita have seen practices sent incorrect patient records and care requests delayed, the BMA has told NHS England.

In a letter to NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens, GPC chair Dr Richard Vautrey demanded an immediate solution to long-running problems with primary care support.

Polling by the BMA found that 88% of practices had patient records waiting for collection, while 93% were awaiting the delivery of patient records.

Around two out of three practices had received incorrect patient records within the last three months - in what the BMA said was a 'clear breach of data protection'.

Patient records

Two in three practices also said urgent requests for patient care were not actioned within three weeks, and almost two in five said patient registrations were not processed within three days.

The findings come just days after GPonline reported that nine out of 10 GPs said they had experienced problems with primary care support services in the past year.

GPC chair Dr Richard Vautrey said: 'These new findings tell a now all too familiar story, that after two years of promises PCSE/Capita and NHS England are continuing to fail to deliver the essential service practices rely on and this is having a real impact on patient care. The BMA has for the last two years tried to work with NHS England to resolve the issues caused by Capita’s shambolic running of GP backroom services, but we have so far been met with hollow commitments as responses.

'The fact that almost all practices are either waiting for patient records to be delivered or collected is extremely concerning, as patients cannot be given the safe and proper care they need if doctors do not hold correct information about them. A majority of practices also said they had received incorrect medical records, which is a clear breach of data protection.

Outsourcing

'As we saw with the collapse of Carillion this week, significant problems can arise when public services are outsourced to a private company in an attempt to cut costs. We warned at the time that this would happen and our concerns were ignored.  NHS England can no longer ignore two years of failure which is why we’re calling for them to take urgent action to address these long-running issues immediately.'

NHS England director of primary care and deputy medical director said: 'We are working very closely with Capita to ensure the needed improvements are made to services. Some issues are now resolved, and progress is well underway with others - this is shown through improvements to customer satisfaction. We are, however, continuing to drive progress hard where it is still needed.'

A Capita spokeswoman said last week that the company had made a number of improvements to the medical records service over the past 12 months and was ‘consistently meeting service levels’. It ‘safely and timely’ moves around 100,000 files a week from multiple sites, she added.

The spokeswoman said: ‘This is a major transformation project to modernise a localised and unstandardised service and we have made significant investment to deliver improvements which have been demonstrated through improved customer satisfaction as measured by our regular independent user satisfaction survey and improved service performance.

‘As has always been the case, we are dependent on a number of third parties supplying us with information and permissions, keeping us informed and notifying us of changes in order for us to efficiently and effectively process requests.’

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