This site is intended for health professionals only


Capita support services remain a ‘chaotic mess’, warns GPC in new report



GP support services remain a ‘chaotic mess’ despite nearly a year passing since NHS England outsourced the services to Capita, the GPC has warned.

The GPC said that the Government has to ‘get a grip’ of the situation, which is ‘putting patient care and safety at risk’, with the warning coming as MPs are due to debate failures in Parliament tomorrow.

A snapshot survey of 281 GP practices carried out by the GPC found that problems with delivering patient notes and customer support persisted last month.

It found:

  • Almost one third (31%) of practices said they had received incorrect patient records;
  • More than one quarter (28%) of practices failed to receive or have records collected from them on the agreed date with Capita;
  • Over half (58%) of practices reported that new patient registrations were not processed within the required three days.
  • Eight in ten (81%) of urgent requests for records were not actioned within three weeks.

Meanwhile, more than one fifth of practices (23%) had not received medical supplies they had ordered on the expected date, like medicines and prescription pads and just over half (51%) of practices reported that customer service support staff were unable to resolve issues within an appropriate timeframe.

But the survey also noted some improvements, including practices reporting ‘incorrect payments’ falling significantly (pensions deductions and trainee reimbursements remained the areas with the biggest issues) and delays with performers list registrations reducing.

The report said that ‘the most striking negative results seem to be in the area of information sharing, contacts and the Primary Care Support England customer support centre, which exacerbates the problems practices are experiencing’, and stressed that the GPC is continuing to push for financial compensation to affected practices

GPC chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul said it ‘is scandalous that up to a third of GP practices are reporting problems with incorrect patient records being sent to GP practices’.

He added: ‘These mistakes are putting patient care and safety at risk. Practices require patient records to judge what clinical care an individual needs, and they need medical supplies delivered on time to be able to provide care to their community.

‘The Government needs to get a grip with the chaotic state of Capita’s handling of this key part of general practice. Patients deserve a first rate service that is safe and effective. At present, GPs are being undermined by a system that is in a chaotic mess.’

A Capita spokesperson said: ‘NHS England contracted Capita to both streamline delivery of GP support services and make significant cost savings across what was a highly localised service with unstandardised, generally unmeasured and in some cases, uncompliant processes.

‘We have taken on this challenging initiative and we have openly apologised for the varied level of service experienced by some service users. We recently met with BMA representatives and they are aware of the steps we are taking and, as they acknowledge, there has recently been an “overall positive trend” across a number of services.’

The support service saga so far

Capita was announced as the national supplier of primary care support services last year, and took on the £400 million, seven-year contract, in September 2015 after NHS England slashed its previous budget of £100m a year by 40%.

Practices were reporting ‘significant disruption’ from August 2015, as local offices that delivered support services were rolled up, but this escalated markedly in April when Capita began overhauling services.

Practices have been left without supplies, and with stockpiles of patient notes which Pulse revealed was due in part to NHS England significantly underestimating the scale of records movement they were contracting for.

 A new system allowing practices to send records directly, without being sorted at a Capita warehouse was due to roll out in Spring, but has been delayed over the additional workload implications for practices.

Other changes that Capita is contracted to roll out, including cancer screening administration and national GP ‘ghost patient’ list cleansing drives, have been pushed back while the current problems are addressed.

A Capita survey last month showed GP satisfaction had tumbled from 63% to 21% since it took over the contract, and on Tuesday 8 November MPs will debate the failings in the procurement and delivery of the contract in Parliament.