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GPs risking patient safety and confidentiality by forwarding misdirected mail to Capita, says NHS England

GPs are putting patient’s safety and confidentiality at risk by redirecting incorrectly addressed mail to Capita instead of returning it to the sender, Primary Care Support England (PCSE) has cautioned.

A notice on the PCSE’s website said that up to 10,000 items each month – such as test results, child protection notes and treatment plans – were being wrongly sent to GPs and then forwarded to PCSE.

It warned that this “expose(s) patients to a risk of harm and disclosure of confidential information,” and has reminded GPs of the correct process to follow for redirecting confidential patient information.

PCSE advised GPs who receive items referring to a patient who is no longer registered to their practice to return items directly to the provider they came from, as well as any misdirected electronic correspondence.

Capita, the company that was awarded the contract to provide primary care support services for the NHS in 2015, had the note published on its site on behalf of NHS England.

This follows a report from the National Audit Office (NAO) back in May that said patients were potentially put “at risk of serious harm” by the decision to outsource primary care duties by NHS England.

There were “widespread failures” in the seven-year contract awarded to Capita, worth £330m, which was condemned by the NAO report.

Issues with Capita’s contract include the incorrect notification to 87 women that they were no longer part of the cervical cancer screening program, leading to claims that the outsourcing of back-office duties to Capita were far below an acceptable standard.

Opticians also raised “serious concerns” over the “shambolic” services offered by the contractor in a letter to NHS chief executive Simon Stevens.

Capita was also recently criticised by the Public Accounts Committee after it found that neither NHS England nor Capita understood the service being outsourced, and that both had “misjudged the scale and nature of the risks.”

An NHS England spokesperson said it had “reinforced guidance to GP practices in a clear and unequivocal way about how to deal with misdirected clinical correspondence,” and that the latest data shows that this correspondence has since been halved.


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