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Capita charges bereaved families £50 for access to deceased patient records

Capita is charging the maximum legally chargeable fee for bereaved families to access medical records of their deceased relatives, in a move criticised by GP leaders.

Primary Care Support England, which has been outsourced to private company Capita since the end of last year, holds the records of all patients who are not registered with a GP practice or who have died. 

Pulse has learnt that it is charging £50 for people to get access to the records of deceased patients or for unregistered patients to get access to their own records. The charge had previously been at the discretion of GP practices at a maximum of £50, but BMA guidance from 2014 advised they only charge the costs of copying and posting the records.  

According to legislation, data controllers can charge a maximum of £10 for access to electronic records or a maximum of £50 for paper records. Capita's website guidance says this is an ‘administration charge for the provision of a copy of a health record to cover the administration and photocopying costs incurred by PCSE to meet your request.’

But Dr Robert Morley, head of the GPC contracts and regulation subcommittee, told Pulse that Capita does not need to charge £50, which exceeds the administrative and postage costs. 

He told Pulse: ‘The £50 is the maximum fee, the actual charge should reflect the true cost, but they are charging a £50 flat rate for all requests.’ Dr Morley added that there is no other way relatives can access these records.

Capita are not allowed to charge for records which have been amended in the 40 days prior to the application.

But a spokesperson told Pulse that these cases are rare and that they would refund the £50 fee if a clinician told them the record had been amended in the last 40 days, subject to photocopying and postage costs which would be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

The spokesperson added: 'We are simply aiming to cover the costs incurred for accessing paper records and refute any suggestion otherwise. The fees are in line with legislation.'

Capita will also consult a health professional before releasing the record as the duty of confidentiality continues beyond death, the spokesperson said. 

This comes after a number of problems with the transport of patient notes. Some practices have reported accumulating piles of patient notes after waiting four weeks for a collection and patient notes going missing, while the Information Commissioner’s Office is enquiring about information governance breaches.

GPC recently passed a motion of no confidence in Capita following ‘months of concerns’ around ’failures in patient record transfer, delivery of supplies and payment problems’.

Problems with primary care support services

Money - coins - cash - online

Money - coins - cash - online

NHS England opted to save £40 million a year from its support services budget and tendered for a single national provider for Primary Care Support England (PCSE).

The winner, Capita, has centralised support services to three national hubs and implemented a single online ‘portal’ for practices to order supplies and ‘track’ the movement of patient records.

Pulse has documented issues, from FP10 shortages, to patient notes turning up in a carpark, that have spiked since April’s overhaul and GP leaders have been urging practices to report every issue to NHS England.

The GPC last month passed a motion of no confidence in Capita.

Read more here

Readers' comments (13)

  • Well done Capita, now if only GPs had sense and courage to do the same instead of trying to be sickly sweety nicey nice all the time and undermining their own value and cost.

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  • oh..the ethical wonders and standards of private outsourcing..the usual miserable inhumane record of incompetence like atos(allegedly responsible for thousands of suicides..why are the responsible politicians not in court?) and all the rest of them.
    entirely to be expected when you substitute public service as part of a unitary therefore efficient nhs with parasitism by a private unaccountable organisation(with laughable so called commercial confidentiality)making profit by causing inefficiency and waste.
    yet another success for the worst government short sighted mismanagement of the NHS since inception.
    so often it pursues short term policies that actually cost more in the long run.
    the whole private outsourcing agenda in the NHS has been and is a wasteful national disaster and has been done secretively by the back door without genuine public consent or understanding...a genuine utter disgrace.

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  • Only way to address it is complain to the ICO about the misuse of the financial maximum as a standard charge.

    However, we should all be charging a little more than we are.

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  • This is interesting since practices must print out the deceased notes in full to send to Capita now with no expectation of a charge.

    If Capita are then selling this on, then they are essentially double selling the notes, getting them for free (unfair) from the GP practice and then selling them to bereaved families.

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  • PCSE, NHS England's true legacy for primary care.

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  • This comment has been removed by the moderator.

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  • Your article is not strictly correct. Access to a bereaved patient's records is under the Access to Health Records Act 1990. If the record has been amended within 40 days no charge can be made. After this £10 can be charged for access, and then a 'reasonable' amount can be charged for photocopying and posting. There is no upper limit to this and I have have previously charged over £200 for copying and posting a record that had many stuffed Lloyd George envelopes as well as the computer record. Once the patient record has left the practice, however, it is not the responsibility of the practice to be involved at all.

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  • Perhaps it's the Access to Health Records Act 1990 that needs reform?

    In my experience, when people go trawling through notes like this they are often looking for a legal case or to make a complaint. Maybe we should be able to refuse without a court order and then charge on a sliding scale per page? Photocopying and checking notes is actually quite resource intensive and should be fairly accounted for.

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  • Why should ANYTHING be free? Cardigans

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  • 09 August 2016 at 1:38 pm

    Yes, and nothing should have been free - including the free Medical Education that you may very well had a few years ago.

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