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BMA hits out at NHS England for ‘unacceptable problems’ with support services

GP bosses have called on NHS England to deal with repeated issues in the delivery of vital services.

In a letter to Simon Stevens, the BMA has raised concerns about four key major problems and a number of other minor concerns.

One complaint was about significant delays in registration and removals of patients. This can affect both practice funding – a portion of which is allocated based on patient list size – and frontline care, with patients facing delays in treatment.

Similar administrative errors have led to violent and often dangerous patients not being taken off practice records, despite procedure indicating their removal.

Shortcomings in the payroll system have also caused a major concern, with some GP trainees not paid on time. On occasion this has forced practices to rely on patient care budgets to pay staff.

In addition, there are concerns that new systems for cervical screening programmes, due to go live in July, are inadequate and unlikely to allow the service to be delivered effectively.

Capita took over back office functions for GPs for Primary Care Support England (PCSE) in 2015 – after the contract to run its services was outsourced by the government.

“PCSE services remain far below the standards the public should expect,” commented Dr Krishna Kasaraneni, the BMA’s GP lead on workforce issues.

“Despite some improvement after sustained pressure from the BMA, unacceptable problems persist in the processing of salaries for GP trainees which have resulted in some doctors not being paid on time.

“This is not only distressing for the individual involved, but it often forces GP practices to dip into overstretched budgets meant for patient care in order to pay their staff.

“There are also worrying doubts about whether the new cervical screening service can be effectively delivered. Patient care and safety continues to be damaged by delays in keeping patient lists up to date.

“This combination of flaws is placing further strain on overstretched GP practices which should be focused on providing care to patients. We need NHS England to step in and make sure back office functions provide the support that GPs need to deliver effective, high quality care to the public.”

Back office functions are a vital part of the GP system. They include the transfer of medical records, ordering of supplies, payment of trainees and control over registration lists for practices.

In September this year, Capita were criticised for taking a contract from Nottingham & Nottinghamshire sustainability and transformation partnership (STP).

The STP handed a £3m contract to the private giant, with both the BMA and local organisation Healthwatch Nottinghamshire calling the deal short-sighted and said it could damage the partnership.

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