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BMA ‘exploring’ legal action after Capita wrongly archived patient records

Exclusive The BMA’s legal team is exploring ‘all avenues available’ after Capita wrongly archived 160,000 patient records in a processing error.

It follows talks between the BMA, NHS England and Capita over footing the bill for the additional work the mistake has created.

The BMA said, as a result of these talks, NHS England had offered funding – but this was ‘completely unacceptable’ and would not cover the cost of the work.

NHS England initially revealed Capita’s mistake in a letter sent to GP practices in May, according to the BMA.

The BMA said this assertion was based on a ‘sample from one area of the country’ and could be higher. However, Capita said only 130,000 patient records were affected.

Dr Richard Vautrey, BMA GP Committee chair, said: ‘As we said when we first became aware of this issue in May, the job of assessing around 150,000 wrongly archived patient records will have a huge workload impact for practices that already under a huge amount of pressure – with some having thousands of records to process.

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‘The BMA has spent the past two months liaising with NHS England and pressing them to ensure that it is Capita which foots the bill for the additional work caused by their mess, rather than hardworking GPs. Crucially, we have stressed that GPs and other practice staff are not taken away from providing direct patient care to deal with this error.’

He added: ‘However, NHS England’s most recent funding offer was completely unacceptable and would not cover the costs of the work required, and therefore we have rejected it. We have instructed our legal department to explore all avenues available to us and individual practices to ensure that GPs and their teams are not financially disadvantaged by this error of Capita’s making.’

A Capita spokesperson said: ‘We have apologised to GPs affected by the delay in processing paper medical records. On average, GP practices had just 20 delayed records to review, and the vast majority – 98% – had fewer than 100 delayed records. There is no indication any patients were harmed as a result of this incident.’

Last year, Capita failed to deliver over 47,000 cervical cancer screening letters to patients – an issue it knew about two months before informing NHS England.

NHS England announced the cervical screening programme would be taken away from Capita in March.

In July, Capita revealed further errors in the cervical screening programme.