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GPs go forth

Practices boycott scheme to send blank patient records in the post

Exclusive GP practices are threatening to boycott the national pilot of a new patient record transfer service, which requires them to send out a blank record in the post, over concerns it will add extra unfunded work to already stretched practices.

GPs and practice managers across East Anglia have approached Pulse with concerns about the ’Medical Records Movement pilot’ that launched this week, which is testing how the new outsourced primary care support services will function. 

As part of the pilot, practices will have to put blank records in a secure bag, print off a tracking label, which will be picked up by a courier and can be tracked.

But there are fears that the new scheme - when it is fully rolled out using full patient records - will result in extra workload, adding minutes to each patient transfer to another practice, and will be acutely felt by practices with a high patient turnover.

Practice managers have told NHS bosses that they would not be participating in the pilot until the potential funding and workload implications were addressed.

Pulse revealed the changes to primary care support services had led to local offices being closed, to be replaced with three centralised offices run by Capita, which led to fears that practices would face disruption (see box).

In the first major pilot scheme of the new support services, Capita's Primary Care Support Services England (PCSE) group is testing its new patient record transfer system, which will see practices send a single 'dummy' record in the envelope, which would be collected by a courier.

A subsequent trial with live patient records will launch in West Yorkshire shortly before a planned national roll out this spring.

But practice managers have expressed concern that the pilot represents a workload increase when the scheme is fully rolled out.

This is because responsibility for tracking and chasing up missing records is being devolved to practices, where formerly it lay with local support service offices.

One practice manager in Cambridgeshire told Pulse: 'The reduction in our admin burden is apparently the ease with which we can track their progress once they have left the practice.'

But, he said, practice managers never need to chase the record, so this would not be helpful. 

He added: ’PCSE [told me] they were aware it would take a couple of additional minutes for us to bag and record, but they didn’t think that would be a problem. In my view it is all about reducing PCSE back-office costs and transferring the work to the practice.’

Dr Brian Balmer, chair of Essex LMCs and a GPC negotiator, told Pulse that local practice managers were boycotting the scheme.

He said: ‘Our practice managers will need some convincing that there is not a significant additional workload attached to this. They’re immensely sceptical about how this will work to the point that I’m not even sure that the pilot will be a success in terms of properly piloting the new scheme.’

‘The reaction across Essex, and across I know neighbouring counties was, ”this is extra work, just forget it”.’

Mark Berman, managing director, PCSE, told Pulse: 'The movement and storage of medical records is currently provided by multiple private sector suppliers. Capita, on behalf of NHS England, is introducing a new national approach which will ensure patient medical records are transferred in a safer, more secure and trackable way.'

An NHS England spokesperson said: 'NHS England has asked Capita to deliver a range of changes to primary care support services which are designed to make services more efficient, more reliable and ultimately better for GP practices.

’This will include improvements for how medical records are moved between GP practices to ensure that records remain safe and can be fully tracked and traced.’


The changes to primary care support services

overdue bills, payments, money, income - online

overdue bills, payments, money, income - online

Source: shutterstock

This new pilot for transferring medical records follows changes to the primary care support services implemented last year, which saw Capita take over the £330m seven-year contract in a bid by NHS England to cut operating costs by £40 million.

NHS England closed local offices that had been responsible for services such as the management of GP practice payments, medical records and national cervical and breast cancer screenings.

Instead, it contracted Capita to replace the local offices with three national centres, each dedicated to one function: screening services; payment services; and medical records, registrations and performers list services.

Read more: Practices suffering ‘significant and unpredictable’ disruption due to privatisation of support services


Readers' comments (14)

  • Another decision thats not been thought through and has no cost efficiency savings whatsoever, just shifts the costs to general practice. Student Health Centres would probably have to close for a month as they have many thousands of registrations during the new term. It would be a case of all hands to the deck, including clinicians , to print of dilly labels and place hundreds of records in plastic bags, which of course is great for the environment! Another poor devision that really hasnt been thought through.

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  • Jai Jeremy. Jai NHS England. Jai ho

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  • How childish.

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  • NHS Manager 10.49

    You have no idea how much tedious work is involved with this new proposal. It would mean less time for my admin staff to complete other more important pieces of work that actually assist patient care!

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  • 'threatening' lol !

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  • NHSE have saved 40% from the original cost, and Capita will be making a profit on this. We are paying for that with our free labour.

    And our 'representatives' tell us to run along and play nicely. F*ck it. I'm out.

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  • Jeremy Ho!

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  • Sympathise with the pressure that practices are under, but this is meant to test Capita's systems, which they will no doubt push through anyway - the smart play might be to go along with the test to find out if it works or not.

    Would be good to get NHS England's view on the changes being made here, this all comes from their not understanding what shared services did....

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  • NHS manager please try to see this from GP view.
    Of course it will work because we are conscientous and care about our patients, even ex-patients. Thus our time and energy will be spent doing work that should be done by Capita.
    All the practices should boycott this pilot until Capita are forced to do their own work

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  • We have 2 practices within our centre and the courier only picked up one package - We have a big turnover so this does not bode well going forward for us. Also seems we are now expected to add donors to our patient records, hope we get this right!!!! And forward on redirection of hospital letters and correspondence???? where am I expected to find the additional admin resouce??

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