NHS England has said it will hold outsourcing company Capita ‘to account’ over the nationwide disruption to general practice that has occurred since its takeover of primary care support services.
In a statement, NHS England says Capita needs to ’swiftly…deal with these transition issues’, which has seen practices left stockpiling records for patients who have moved surgery, and missing prescription pads and sterile supplies.
But NHS England also defends the decision to cut costs by outsourcing support services from local offices to Capita’s three national hubs, saying it has ‘freed up tens of millions of pounds’.
It comes in the wake of a GPC letter demanding practices receive ‘recompense’ for the additional workload and costs brought in the change, with patient notes, payments and clinical supplies all affected.
A Capita spokesperson said they had been tasked with ‘transforming’ a previously ‘fragmented’ system, and that initial teething problems were inevitable.
An NHS England spokesperson said: ‘Cutting administrative back office costs by 40% has freed up tens of millions of pounds for reinvestment in frontline NHS care, but the vendor swiftly needs to deal with these transition issues so that practice managers are properly supported.
’We will be holding the vendor to account for doing exactly that.’
Capita became provider for Primary Care Support England in September 2015, after winning the seven year contract, which NHS England intends will shave 40% from its £100m annual budget.
Practices had already been suffering the fallout of the loss of local offices , but the new centralised system uses online portals for ordering supplies and allows patient records to be tracked in transit.
Practices have reported problems registering with the new service, and hugely understaffed call centres with 40minute waits for support being common.
Additionally, practices are boycotting the new time-intensive record transfer system, which requires each record to be individually bagged and sealed with a barcode by the practice.
Pulse has revealed much of the fallout being experienced by practices, who have been left stockpiling records for patients who have moved surgery and missing prescription pads and sterile supplies – potentially putting patients at risk.
And some practices have been unable to locate delayed seniority payments, while enhanced service payments in East Anglia went missing in the handover.
A Capita spokesperson said: ‘NHS England asked Capita to transform what was a locally agreed, fragmented primary care support service, to a national standardised system. Our focus has always been to ensure we achieve an efficient, effective and modern service, that reduces the administrative burden on primary care staff.
’It is inevitable, that with such significant structure change there will be initial challenges. However, we have been and are continuing to, work closely with NHS England to ensure the service is delivered at an optimal level.’