latest health care news

15.11.18

Capita must be stripped of ‘shambolic’ national contract after failing to send over 48,000 letters

The BMA has written to NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens expressing “extreme concern” over Capita after being made aware that the outsourced contractor failed to send up to 48,500 pieces of correspondence to women who had had cervical cancer screenings after a “system error.”

It is understood by the union that a majority of the documents included appointment invitations and reminder letters, however some of them were screening results.

The BMA argued that this is simply the latest in a series of failings by Capita, which is contracted to provide GP back-office services.

In its letter to Stevens, the BMA has called for Capita to be stripped of its NHS England contract and for the Primary Care Support England to be taken back in-house. The contract has been previously branded a “complete mess” by the Public Accounts Committee.

Affected GPs have reportedly been written to and informed by NHS England of the issue, and the BMA reiterated that GPs and their teams must not “bear the brunt of rectifying this unacceptable failing by a private company – something GPs have experienced in the past.”

Dr Richard Vautrey, BMA GP committee chair, said: “This is an incredibly serious situation, and it is frankly appalling that patients may now be at risk because of this gross error on the part of Capita.  Some women will now be left extremely anxious because they have not received important correspondence, particularly letters about abnormal smear test results that need urgent follow up. This has been caused solely by Capita’s incompetence.

“We know that, because of the nature of this procedure, many patients are already reluctant to attend these appointments, and therefore reminder letters are crucial to provide encouragement and reinforce the importance of having a cervical smear test done. Incidents like this, therefore, will hardly inspire confidence in the system and risk even fewer women getting checked.

“Since it took responsibility for GP back room functions three years ago, Capita’s running of these services has been nothing short of shambolic and after repeated warnings from the BMA and government, this is now clear evidence that its failings have put patient safety – and possibly lives – at risk.  It is ultimately NHS England that bears overall responsibility and it must now take this service back in-house. As the body which commissioned Capita to take on this work, despite clear warning signs that it was not up to the job, NHS England must shoulder the blame for this dreadful situation; you cannot outsource responsibility.”

 

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