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GPC demands practices be compensated for 'systematic failure' of support services

The GPC has told NHS managers that every practice should be compensated for the significant extra workload they have had to take on as a result of the ‘systematic failure’ stemming from the handover of primary care support services to the private provider Capita. 

The GPC sent a letter to NHS England most senior management to highlight the ‘serious and systemic failure’ of the relaunched primary care support service, for which it is ’ultimately responsible’.

Capita has said that they have introduced new procedures in a bid to alleviate the problems for practices.

Pulse has written extensively about the problems with Primary Care Support England, which has seen practices accumulating piles of uncollected patient records, missing payments, and left without vital practice supplies.

The GPC has raised these issues with Capita, but the letter states that interim solutions have heaped more workload and costs on practices and things have not improved ‘despite reassurances’ made weeks ago.

In the letter, GPC chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul writes the new service has undermined a ‘reliable and trusted NHS service with the explicit intent of making significant financial savings’ and the result has been further burden on already hard-pressed practices.

Dr Nagpaul writes: ’’I write to highlight the significant concerns of the BMA’s GP committee and the wider GP population with the systemic failure of the services provided by primary care support England under contract to Capita, having received a multitude of serious complaints from practices and LMCs.

’While these have been discussed with Capita, the scale of the problem means we need to highlight this at the most senior level as NHS England is ultimately responsible.’

The GPC chair says that as a result of the problems from this transfer, NHS England must ensure: ‘Every practice should receive recurrent recompense for the extra workload related to the new Capita services, in addition to compensation for increased workload and inconvenience caused by the unsatisfactory introduction of these services.’

He calls on them to demonstrate:

  • exactly what is being done to resolve and stabilise the service;
  • that no further plans will be implemented until they have been thoroughly tested, and proved to be safe, but also acceptable to end users;
  • sufficient numbers of adequately trained staff are available (halting office closure plans if required);
  • lessons will be learnt, by altering the service specification with Capita and by providing additional funding support for practices;
  • any current or future PMS reviews should take into account the increased workload when deciding on appropriate levels of funding;
  • any governance breaches should be investigated and NHS England must indemnify GPs who have acted reasonably, but find through no fault of their own, breaches of any CQC or information governance issues as a result of these changes.

Pulse asked NHS England if they intended to take action when the problems were first revealed, and a spokesperson said they had tasked Capita with making improvements to make services ‘more efficient, more reliable and ultimately better for GP practices.’

They added: ‘We will continue to work closely with Capita to review ongoing progress and investigate feedback from users as this new approach is implemented.’

When Pulse first put concerns about delays raised by GPs to Capita, a spokesperson said after an intial ‘pause’ to collections to at new national courier service, they have ‘introduced a secure, weekly collection service for medical records for all GP practices across England.

‘All of our courier service staff have mandatory ID and nothing should be handed over unless ID is presented.’

A Capita spokesperson told Pulse: ’We are continuing to work closely with NHS England and proactively engaging key stakeholders, including the GPC and LMCs, so we can continue to refine and improve the service going forward.’

Pulse has approached NHS England for comment on the GPC’s letter.

The problems with the outsourced support services

paperwork, patient notes, patient records, envelope - online

paperwork, patient notes, patient records, envelope - online

Source: Julian Claxton

NHS England announced it intended to outsource the national primary care support services contract to a single provider in 2014, in a bid to save 40% from its £100m a year annual budget.

And Pulse has followed the progress of the move, first revealing the ‘significant and sustained disruption’ practices were enduring as local support services offices were closed.

When Capita took over the contract this year Pulse revealed how problems with the new online ordering portal had left practices without vital clinical supplies, an issue which Dr Nagpaul says has not been addressed and which ‘presents a significant risk to the care provided to patients’.

Pulse has also shown how practices have been left with piles of uncollected patients notes.

This has particularly affected student practices with a high patient turnover. Pulse has shown how one Huddersfield practice concerned by the potential for records to be lost in transit has boycotted Capita’s new record movement pilot – risking being found in breach of contract. 

Pulse heard the same practice was left missing seniority payments along with payment problems across East Anglia as a reuslt of NHS England’s failed handover. Dr Nagpaul highlights this has been an issue across the country, as well as concerns about management of the performers list.

Readers' comments (17)

  • I remember a time when we gave some particularly complex patients the contents of their records (the system was happy to process the Lloyd George envelopes) to hand-deliver to their new practice on registration.
    Would this be a partial emergency workaround - especially for practices not on GP2GP?

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  • Barking system - with the 26 records CORRECT record I received last week, I also received 2 dead patient (one of which for another surgery in town) and 2 very live patients but unfortunately never had any links with the local area at all and registered with practices far away.... and yes, one for a patient actually registered at another local practice. Well the bar coded lablels on the envelopes were all for us so something definitely isn't right....

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  • Yet yet yet yet yet again the complete wasteful failure of outsourcing to the private sector
    It would be surprising if it was successful
    Especially the woeful crapita with its execrable record
    The total loony who arranged this failure should be SACKED
    Suggest FOI enquiry surprising if you don't find conflicts of interest with some politico in this the worst most corrupt stupid and deluded maladministration of modern times

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  • There is a limit to the efficiencies that can be made through centralisation before standards falter. SBS proved this with the south west contract where they did manage to get the service sort of working eventually although it never delivered anywhere near the standard of the previous local services. The value of local knowledge and relationships is completely overlooked and lost when centralising and the greater the centralisation the more it is lost.
    As for saving money. I have absolutely no doubt whatsoever that the service could have been delivered locally for the same value of the national contract but that option was never properly considered because NHSE were completely blinkered by the fallacy that a single central service was the only solution.
    I understand that some scoping work was undertaken for local services but it would never have worked collaboratively the way they were looking at it. It needed one model to be implemented by a single management team. The problem was that nobody had the bottle to make redundancies from the inefficient services across the country that had built their empires while there relatively weak control. There were plenty of efficient services out there showing how it could and should be done. The simple truth is that the option to go to tender was the lazy option where NHSE could just hand everything over to the private sector and leave them to get on with it. The fact they thought they could just goes to show how stupid they are!
    How many failed privatisations have to occur before someone realises its not the right solution?

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  • A major strategic error is the disconnection between the budget holder, and the person who suffers the consequences. Person A runs the budget and is told to make savings, but never feels the effect of what they do, they are completely remote from the consequences of their actions. Person B has no control over the budget but feels all the consequences. Person A therefore has every incentive to buy the cheapest service and get a pat on the back from Simon Stevens because none of them feel the consequences that person B is suffering.

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  • Anonymous | Practice Manager12 May 2016 11:17am

    Outstanding explanation of NHS commissioning all over.

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  • Martin Harris

    Good letter Chaand!
    In one word only, the overwhelming problem for my GPs: WORKLOAD. Please pursue this letter to cover avalanche on our desks, together with a platform to reduce the overwhelming work.

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