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07.11.16

Doctors claims Capita handling of GP records is ‘chaotic mess’

The handling of GP patient records and other support services by an outsourcing firm is a “chaotic mess”, the BMA has claimed as a new survey of doctors revealed the extent of problems with the company.

The BMA surveyed 281 GP practices, with collective responsibility for more than two million patients, about their experiences with Capita, which was awarded an NHS England contract to deliver administrative support services for GP practices in September 2015.

In response, 81% of practices said that during October Capita had failed to deliver patient records within three weeks when they requested them urgently.

Furthermore, 31% said they had received incorrect records, and 28% failed to receive or have records collected on an agreed date.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, chair of the BMA GP committee, said: “The government needs to get a grip with the chaotic state of Capita’s handling of this key part of general practice.

“Patients deserve a first-rate service that is safe and effective. At present, GPs are being undermined by a system that is in a chaotic mess.”

Nearly a quarter of respondents added that Capita had not delivered medical supplies on the expected date, over half said that customer support staff were not able to resolve issues within an appropriate timeframe, and nearly three-fifths noted that new patient registrations were not processed within the required three days.

Following complaints from Dr Nagpaul in September, Karen Wheeler, national director of transformation and corporate operations at NHS England, admitted that Capita had “delivered an unacceptable level of service” and said addressing the problems was a “top priority”.

NHE contacted Capita for a comment but had not received a reply at the time of publication.

5pm UPDATE

A Capita spokesperson said: “NHS England contracted Capita to both streamline delivery of GP support services and make significant cost savings across what was a highly localised service with unstandardised, generally unmeasured and in some cases, uncompliant processes. We have taken on this challenging initiative and we have openly apologised for the varied level of service experienced by some service users. We recently met with BMA representatives and they are aware of the steps we are taking and, as they acknowledge, there has recently been an ‘overall positive trend’ across a number of services."

They added that Capita was delivering medical records up to three times faster than the previous system and moved an average of 100,000 files a week.

They also said Capita was “working closely” with NHS England to improve the timeframe for accessing records held by the health service.

An NHS England spokesperson said: “We know there have been serious issues with services delivered by Capita which have had an unacceptable impact on practices, which this survey clearly shows.  We have always been clear that it is critical for the service to enable GPs to focus on patient care and required Capita to at least maintain the previous service and quality levels, sadly this has not happened.  We are now working more closely with Capita to ensure that urgent  improvements are made. “

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