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GPs buried under trusts' workload dump

Capita wrongly archived 160,000 patient records due to processing error

Capita has wrongly archived 160,000 patients records following a processing error, the BMA has revealed. 

In a letter sent today to all GP practices, NHS England said that 160,000 patient records were mistakenly archived by Capita rather than transferred to GP practices, according to the BMA.

The BMA said this assertion is based on a 'sample from one area of the country', and the figure could be higher. 

However, Capita said only 130,000 patient records have been affected since it took over as NHS England’s national provider of primary care support in September 2015, and pointed out that no harm was caused to patients. 

A Capita spokesperson said: 'A number of paper medical records were not redirected by PSCE when patients moved to new GP practices. There is no indication that any harm has occurred to any patients as a result of the paper records delay. Patients’ electronic records have not been affected.'

They added: 'We are working to deliver these physical records as quickly as possible and have taken steps to ensure this does not happen again. We apologise to any patients and GP practices affected. This relates to 130,000 records since Capita took on the contract, out of more than six million moved each year.'

BMA GP Committee chair Dr Richard Vautrey said: 'Capita has presided over a litany of failings since they took charge of backroom support for GP services almost four years ago, from issues with payments to practices, to the very serious error that came to light last year, when tens of thousands of patients were left without important correspondence about cervical screening.

'160,000 patients’ records wrongly archived rather than forwarded to practices is just the latest major error and while it is shocking, we cannot say we are surprised. Capita has consistently proved itself unfit to hold this contract. NHS England has at last listened to the BMA and now plans to bring cervical smear administration back in-house, and with this latest blunder they now must urgently do the same for all of these services.'

Dr Vautrey added: 'And while NHS England tells us that they do not believe any patients have come to any harm, this assertion is based on a sample from just one area of the country, which may not be enough to back up such claims. Patients cannot be allowed to be put at risk because of the incompetence of one supplier, and NHS England must offer support to anyone affected.'

In September last year, NHS England launched a review after identifying significant issues with Capita failing to keep accurate records of data held for pensionable earnings and those for pension contributions, dating back a decade. 

This could have a significant impact on a ‘large proportion of the GP community’, according to an NHS England letter leaked to Pulse.

Dr Vautrey added: 'Even if no patient has been harmed, we find ourselves having the same conversations about a new Capita failing, and it is completely unacceptable that this is being allowed to happen again.

'Ultimately, it will be GP practices, already under pressure from heavy workloads, that bear the brunt of sorting out the mess left behind by Capita, and NHS England must ensure surgeries also receive the support and resources needed to do so.'

An NHS England spokesperson said: 'There is no evidence to suggest that any patient has come to any harm as a result of this issue and Capita is now delivering any delayed patient records to the correct GP practices as quickly as possible, with the majority of correspondence returned.'

Last year, it was revealed that Capita failed to deliver over 47,000 cervical cancer screening letters to patients - an issue it knew about two months before informing NHS England.

NHS England then announced that the cervical screening programme would be taken away from Capita and brought back in-house

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Readers' comments (9)

  • Patients DO come to harm - we see it weekly.
    Why does it take 3 -4 months for a set of patient notes to travel half a mile between Practices when the patient moves?
    (We know it takes only a week at most for old practice to bundle up and post them too!!!)

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  • David Banner

    Another week, another Crapita cock up story.
    They have been beyond parody for years. The real disgrace lies with those who have repeatedly failed to kick Capita out of the NHS. Shame on you.

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  • It’s not only patient harm, it’s reputational harm to the service and harm of stress to GPs that have to sort it all out.

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  • Can’t help speculating about the future career prospects of anyone leaving capita for another health admin job...any references they have re their competence would be difficult to believe if they were applying for an admin job for our PCN for example!

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  • Why aren't heads rolling about this -- and, perhaps more importantly, being seen to roll? The message which needs sending out is simple -- you deal negligently with the NHS, you pay with your job. We simply cannot continue with the present situation where if a clinician makes a mistakes the book is thrown at him/her, but if a manager makes a mistake it's glossed over. Every single one of those mis-directed records potentially risks death or severe injury - it's no use hiding behind an assumption that no harm actually came of it. (Not that I necessarily believe this, anyway.)

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  • It absolutely is one rule for clinical staff and one rule for the rest.

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  • ...'we have no evidence'... and we have no intention of looking in case we find some!

    I would assert that NHS England is negligent in its administration of its contract with Capita.
    'I have no evidence' apart from its own words and actions and those of Capita.

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  • Took Early Retirement

    Looks folks, you all misunderstand this. It's privatised so it MUST be good. This is TOry dogma. Ignore the fact that it isn't. It MUST be good. Repeat after me.....

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  • ''However, Capita said only 130,000 patient records have been affected since it took over....''

    Only 130,000 ! and we should shrug it off, eh:)
    Arrogance sublime, mon cheri.

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