21.03.19

NHSE to strip Capita of ‘shambolic’ cervical screening contract and bring it in-house

NHS England (NHSE) has stripped Capita of its cervical screening administration services following “shambolic” errors made in failing to deliver over 50,000 letters to patients.

The chief executive of NHSE, Simon Stevens, told the Commons Public Accounts Committee that the services would be brought back inhouse from June, stating that “we have not been satisfied” with Capita’s performance.

In November last year, it emerged that the outsourcing contractor had failed to send up to 48,500 pieces of correspondence to women who had had cervical cancer screenings following a ‘system error’.

These included invitations and reminder letters but also screening results, and the BMA wrote to Stevens expressing its “extreme concern” over Capita in what it said was its latest error in a series of failings.

The BMA called for Capita to be stripped of its contract and the Public Accounts Committee branded the contract a “complete mess.”

It also emerged that Capita took two months to notify NHSE about delays in letters. The chair of the Royal College of GPs declared that “we have lost all confidence” in Capita.

Stevens has now told MPs that Capita is to be stripped of the contract for cervical screening administration, and the services will be brought inhouse through a phased transition from June.

Krishna Kasaraneni, an executive member of the BMA’s GP Committee, said: “We have long been raising concerns about Capita’s frankly shambolic running of GP support services.

“Most notably we called for their contract to be stripped when it was revealed at the end of last year that thousands of patients had not received vital information about cervical screening, potentially putting them at risk.

“It is only right that NHS England has followed through and removed this service from Capita, and now any transition process must be robust and not be done as a cost-cutting exercise at the expense of patient safety.”

The BMA also pointed to the range of primary care support services that Capita still remained responsible for despite a highly critical report from the National Audit Office last year which called NHSE’s contract with Capital “high-risk.”

Kasaraneni said there were “still fundamental ongoing issues with Capita’s delivery of other backroom functions” and demanded that NHSE take responsibility and bring them in-house as well.

Image credit - Andrew Matthews/PA Archive/PA Images

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