Capita has admitted that correspondence relating to cervical screening was not processed properly due to an administrative error.
The private company, which runs the NHS’s Primary Care Support England service, revealed in a statement that the error caused a delay to 16 women being invited to screening – but insisted no harm was caused.
It also failed to remove a further 99 women from the screening programme. All affected women have now been contacted and Capita has apologised, said the company.
But according to the BMA, the cervical screening letters and emails were sent to three email inboxes left ‘unprocessed for around two years’ and it believes there could be thousands of emails that have not been acted on.
The BMA has called on NHS England to strip Capita of its entire GP contract, which includes processing GP pension contributions.
Capita has already been told by NHS England that its contract for cervical screening will be removed, following a series of errors.
A statement on PCSE’s website today said: ‘Due to an administrative error, Capita discovered that some emails and letters relating to cervical screening were not processed correctly.
‘This has caused a delay in 16 women receiving their invitation to cervical screening. There is no indication any harm has been caused as a result. Capita apologises for this delay and those affected have now been contacted.
‘A further 99 women should have been removed from the programme, but this was not actioned. These requests have now been processed and the women concerned have also been contacted to apologise for the delay.’
BMA GP Committee chair Dr Richard Vautrey said the incident further illustrates Capita’s incompetence and its impact on patient care.
He said: ‘Less than a year after tens of thousands of women missed vital correspondence about cervical screening, this is a further example of patient safety being put at risk because of Capita’s incompetence.
‘While the numbers here are much smaller, this is testament to the hard work and diligence of GPs and their teams, picking up the pieces where Capita has failed. However, if just one patient comes to harm as a result of this blunder – that is one too many.’
He added: ‘We understand that all women affected have been informed, but to hear that they may be up to two years overdue for an appointment will no doubt cause a great deal of distress and anxiety.
‘Four months ago, following repeated pressure by GPC England, NHS England finally stripped Capita of the cervical screening contract, however it is still responsible for a number of backroom GP functions, delivering PCSE services. This most recent revelation provides further evidence that it is unfit to hold this PCSE contract and, as we have stressed consistently, NHS England must take it back in-house immediately.’
It also emerged this week that a ‘large’ amount of unallocated pension funds has still yet to be distributed to GPs and other healthcare professionals by Capita.