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Practices to receive £250 for ‘patience and hard work’ in dealing with Capita

Exclusive Each practice will receive £250 in compensation for the additional workload that has fallen on managers and administrative staff since Capita’s overhaul of patient records movement last year.

A letter seen by Pulse from NHS England director of commissioning Rosamond Roughton thanks practices for their ‘hard work, dedication, patience and support’ in having to individually bag every record of patients moving practice – a system introduced by Capita in April 2016.

However, the letter stops short of attributing this compensation to the chaos that has been caused since Capita took responsibility for transporting patient records, which have seen huge backlogs in records transfers and practices having to stockpile notes.

The payment is in addition to the £266 average payment practices are receiving as part of the 2017/18 contract agreement for costs associated with Capita’s patient records system.

The GPC, who have been in negotiations over the additional payment, said the £250 flat compensation payment goes ‘some way’ to recognising the ‘repeating failings’ since Capita took over primary care support services.

But GP practices who have spent hours each week chasing lost records on top of the extra work being introduced by Capita’s new system told Pulse the payment ‘barely covers the cost of teabags’.

NHS England’s letter says the £250 flat payment is ‘to contribute to additional costs already incurred’ since April 2016 and will be made before May 2017 – a year after the GPC first began calling for compensation for the ‘failure’ of the support services launch.

Since April, practices have been asked to individually bag records in plastic envelopes provided by Capita every time a patient moves practice, with the envelope then sent to Capita depots to be sorted and forwarded.

Some practices have protested at the extra time cost of this system and have inserted multiple records in an envelope to save time.

Ms Roughton says: ‘Accommodating these changes has fallen particularly on practice managers and practice administrative staff and we are grateful for the hard work, dedication, patience and support of practice staff as we work to implement the new system.

‘In recognition of this, and to contribute to the additional costs already incurred by GP practices since April 2016, NHS England has agreed with the GPC, to make a non-recurrent contribution to GP practices based on a standard rate of £250 per practice.’

GPC deputy chair Dr Richard Vautrey explained the payment ‘goes some way to recognise the significant problems most practice managers and other administrative staff have had to cope with over the last year as a result of the serious and repeated failings of the Capita managed PCSE [Primary Care Support England] service.’

But Dr Dominique Thompson, director of the Bristol University Student’s Health Service said, as a high turnover practices the extra workload dwarfed this sum.

She told Pulse: ‘We have a list size of over 18,000 and turnover a third of that each year, we have to employ several additional people to support this process at the best of times, so with the additional workload it’s probably fair to say that the £250 barely covered the cost of teabags.’

An NHS England spokesperson said the additional payment would be ‘funded and paid centrally by NHS England’ in recognition of the changes which ‘may have had a workload impact over the course of the last year.’

The 2017/18 contract agreement put £2m into the global sum to cover further changes being introduced by Capita, which will see practices having to barcode each record individually.

Support services disruption

Practices have been contending with significant disruption to payments, pensions, supplies and patient notes since Capita began overhauling services in March last year.

At the end of last year, the GPC warned that the service was still a ‘chaotic mess’ but practices have yet to be compensated for the disruption and additional workload they have suffered.

Last month, NHS England pledged that ‘significant improvements’ to general practice support services will be completed by April, as it seeks to return the services it outsourced last year to ‘acceptable’ levels.

But by then practices will have endured more than year of disruption, after Capita took over as NHS England’s national provider of primary care support in September 2015.

The move followed an NHS England cost-cutting drive where it slashed its £100m-a-year support services budget by 40% and has resulted in huge backlogs of patient records movement, delays registering new GPs and missed payments