GP leaders in England have warned that patient safety is being compromised by multiple failures in back office support services currently run by Capita.
It comes after a qualitative survey by the BMA of Local Medical Committees (LMCs), the regional bodies that represents GPs, revealed serious failures in a range of areas Capita are now responsible for as part of its contract with NHS England to run Primary Care Support (PCS) services1. This includes:
• Serious problems with the management of patient records, including:
(a) Long delays in collection/delivery of records when patients transfer from one practice to another
(b) Failure to process urgent requests for records in a timely manner if the patients has an immediate emergency
(c) Large build-ups of records awaiting transfer to a new practice
(d) Wrong records delivered to practices resulting in time wasted by the GP attempting to reroute them.
(e) Records not being updated so they often appear with patient’s previous addresses on the records.
• Delays in providing funding for GP Trainees, resulting in many practices having to fund their salaries from their own overstretched budgets.
• Failures in maintaining supplies to GP practices, including GP practices suffering shortages of key materials like prescription pads, fit note certificates and syringes.
• Delays, failures and mistakes in ensuring NHS pension payments are properly recorded for GP locums.
Dr Chaand Nagpaul, BMA GP committee chair, said:
“Clear evidence is emerging that there are a range of systematic and endemic failures in the way Capita are running crucial back office support services in general practice. Local GPs are reporting to the BMA that they are facing unacceptable delays in patient record transfers and mistakes in maintaining supplies of crucial medical equipment, like syringes and even prescription paper. Many GP practices are also not getting funding transferred correctly from other NHS bodies to cover staff costs and pensions, which means they are having to dip into on their already stretched budgets to cover these costs.
“These mistakes are directly impacting on the ability of many GPs to provide safe, effective care to their patients. They are in some cases being left without the essential information they need to know about a new patient and the tools to treat them.
“NHS England is ultimately responsible for the chaos caused by trying to cut the cost of this essential service for practices by privatising it and we can now all too clearly see the result, with practices picking up the workload and patients suffering as a result. I have written to NHS England expressing my grave concern about this state of affairs and received an apology for these failures2. But we need urgent action to correct these shortcomings before patient care is further compromised.”
Notes to Editors
A summary of the issues reported by LMCs to the BMA can be requested from the BMA Media Office at [email protected] . Please note this is not a quantitative survey so no statistics are available.
1. Capita took over the running of PCS services in September 2015.
2. The BMA letter to NHS England and the reply from NHS England can be found here.