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NHS England ‘asked Capita to halt primary care support office closures’

NHS England wrote to Capita to ask it to consider halting the closure of local primary care support service offices in 2016, a report has revealed.

This was one a range of points highlighted in a lengthy National Audit Office report published today, which concluded that NHS England had put patient safety at risk when awarding the ‘over-ambitious’ contract in 2015.

As revealed by Pulse at the time, the Capita takeover of primary care support functions left practices suffering ‘significant and unpredictable’ disruption.

The report said Capita ‘acknowledges that it made performance issues worse’ when it continued to close support offices in the summer of 2016 ‘even though it was aware’ its customer service centre ‘was struggling to meet demand’.

It went on to reveal NHS England had tried to intervene but ‘did not have the contractual mechanisms’ to do so.

The report said: ‘In May 2016, NHS England wrote to Capita expressing concerns about the closure of support offices, and asked Capita to reconsider its plans to reduce its number of staff.

‘Although Capita’s site closure programme required NHS England’s engagement throughout the process, the contract did not require NHS England’s agreement to close offices, and between May and November 2016, Capita closed a further 20 offices.’

Since Capita took on services, the number of staff involved in primary care support has reduced from 1,650 to 736. Despite this, Capita has made losses worth £125m. Capita had initially envisaged having just 314 PCSE staff by March 2018.