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What if Capita was a GP practice…

What if Capita was a GP practice…

The news yesterday that NHS England had extended the contract of Capita to continue to provide support services to primary care was met with horror by many GPs.

In extending the contract, NHS England is basically rewarding ‘failure’, as the BMA put it, and a private company that is taking funding out of the NHS is being held to less account than GPs.

Over the past seven years, Primary Care Support England – the service Capita is contracted to run – has been failing to provide GPs with the support they need. GPs have been left waiting until it’s too late for their pension statements, practices have failed to get patient records transferred in time, GPs have been unable to get on the performers list and any attempt to get in touch with a PCSE adviser has required half a day spare and a lot of patience. The very fact that a trial has been set up to escalate queries when they have gone beyond the 40-day mark suggests these past seven years haven’t been a roaring success.

This shows the folly of the idea that the private sector is more efficient for the NHS. Efficiency for private company firms means delivering to the specs of the contract in the most cost-effective way. I don’t feel that Capita have actually delivered on the contract (and the National Audit Office agreed) yet NHS England is seemingly pleased with their work.

Contrast this with their attitude to GPs, where they demand face-to-face access, which GPs are both doing already and isn’t even written into the contract; where GPs have also to contend with more regulators like the CQC and the GMC; and where contracts are so ambiguous as to leave GPs unaware as to whether they have to physically be in the premises or not on Saturdays. Yet GPs routinely provide services beyond their contract.

So what if Capita were a GP practice? We would see NHS England slapping monthly contract breach notices, we’d see weekly press releases about how Capita need to start responding to their customers within three months, and we would see at least two regulators removing their registration within the year.

Maybe NHS England will start to apply the same principles to GP practices that they apply to Capita now. So the next Daily Mail headline screaming about how terrible GP access is will hopefully be met with a statement from NHS England: ‘We are delighted to announce a pilot so that any patient calling for 40 days continuously will be able to call a dedicated number (which also won’t be answered).’

Jaimie Kaffash is editor of Pulse. Follow him on Twitter @jkaffash or email him at



Please note, only GPs are permitted to add comments to articles

Patrufini Duffy 8 June, 2022 5:56 pm

Well said; society reaks of double standards and scapegoating. The riots and strikes are on the horizon and in motion. Across all sectors. Diversion from the corrupt. Let’s talk about Love Island or the World Cup. Or be distracted by, er…how bad GPs are. Whilst they all siphon the contracts and chuck mud at you.

Luqman Rajput 8 June, 2022 6:06 pm

If capita was a a practice it would have been served notice ages ago. I agree with you JK

Alfred Brown 8 June, 2022 6:34 pm

All part of their plan, allowing the service to collapse, putting a competent organisation in place might help save us or just delay the enevitable. How much will they offer us to become salaried employees? We’re about 30% behind where we should be. The salary being muted, to be on a par with consultants would be around the 20% mark.

Patrufini Duffy 9 June, 2022 1:46 pm

Jaimie is Pulse aware of the opt out % of PCN Des?

Vinci Ho 9 June, 2022 2:36 pm

As I wrote before , the feeling is exactly like our ‘brilliant’ prime minister surviving the vote of confidence within party . Question is : how long can this go on ?
Capita for another three years (at least) . That can be one major reason why we should consider industrial action .

Rogue 1 10 June, 2022 2:57 pm

Unfortunately the BMA don’t have the ^&%$ to take industrial action!

Just Your Average Joe 12 June, 2022 8:35 pm

The poor quality of Capita’s services are so below standard, that their contract should have been removed years ago.

Renewing the contract is like giving the Bristol Royal Infirmary a pat on the back after the Bristol enquiry, and renewing their contract to perform cardiac surgery for another 3 years.

Diverting further NHS funds to a poorly performing Private organisation, is failing to understand why private companies do so well, as suggested in your article. They simple charge for everything they do, and refuse to do anything they have not specifically been contracted to do, hence cutting corners and saving money in the process.

They also don’t worry about patient care or their duty of care to them, as shareholder value and profit is the only bottom line that counts. In this 1 horse race, their is no competition to force them to improve the quality of their performance, as there is no risk that their ”customers” can go anywhere else, or get service/justice from any other organisation.

All the NHS, and those reliant on their services can do, is call time and again without success, and hope one day it might be a lottery style win and their needs will be met.

If the NHS got Capita to rum the service for free for the next 3 years to make up for the poor performance that came before it, it would still be more than Capita deserve.