NHS England may split up its primary care support services into separate units from 2025 when the current Capita contract is up for re-procurement.
Primary Care Support England (PSCE), which handles back-office functions for GPs such as administration of pensions and transfer of medical records, has been supplied by the company Capita since 2015.
GPs have experienced numerous problems with Capita’s performance, such as delays with the processing of their pensions at the start of retirement.
Earlier this year, NHS England took on legal services to aid with the re-procurement process, which is currently in the preparation stage.
The national commissioner said: ‘In order to determine if the future service model will be to secure a single supplier or disaggregate the current provision into specific service areas, the team will undertake a scoping and design process to determine the future requirements.’
The BMA’s pensions committee deputy chair and GPCE member Dr Krishan Aggarwal said Capita has made ‘countless errors’ over the years which ‘have a serious impact on patient safety and GP workload and finances’.
He said: ‘This long history of failings cannot be allowed to continue, especially at a time of immense pressure in the NHS and when general practice needs more support than ever.
‘We believe this contract should have been terminated long ago, and that Capita should not be allowed to bid for a public contract of this, or any other nature, ever again.’
South West London GP partner Nick Grundy said: ‘I don’t think there’s a single person working in primary care who would want them to retain a single bit of the service they offer. It’s all dreadful.’
He said that GPs would likely want ‘all things taken away from PCSE’ and ‘if that means breaking it up and letting other people do it, so be it’.
Dr Grundy also suggested that individual services may be better managed locally ‘rather than breaking them up by subject matter’.
The BMA’s Dr Aggarwal said the potential disaggregation of the contract, with more than one provider involved, could ‘lead to further chaos and different providers shifting blame for future, ongoing failures’.
He said: ‘Fundamentally, Primary Care Support Services should not be outsourced and should instead be an arm of commissioning bodies or their support units. Capita’s involvement has caused untold stress for practices and threatened patient safety.
‘We instead need to see a single, in-house provider that can offer the safe and high-quality service that GPs and their communities rightly expect.’
In June last year, Capita secured a three-year contract extension, worth £94m, to deliver PCSE until 31 August 2025.
Pulse’s investigation in November revealed the scale of issues faced by GPs because of Capita’s poor administration.
NHS England told Pulse on background that it was considering options for the re-procurement of support services, but that no decisions have been made yet.
According to NHSE’s timeline, the procurement phases will begin in November 2023 and a contract award will be made in January 2025.