As you know, we are a large GP group with 36,000 working GPs in 8,000 practices providing healthcare for 53 million patients. You can imagine that things can get very busy at times and Dr C Apita (also known as Primary Care Support England) was seconded to us on 1 September 2015 in order to provide support.
Dr C Apita continues to perform below the expected level
As I explained in my previous letter, we had no choice in the selection of this person, and I’ll admit we did not have high hopes about the hire, but the individual was employed by NHS England under a specific job plan for a seven-year, fixed-term post with an annual salary of £47.1m.
The job plan was as follows:
- Provide up-to-date information on doctors joining and leaving the practice.
- Process pension contributions for all doctors in the practice.
- Answer queries promptly by phone or email.
- Ensure practices were paid on time.
- Deliver essential supplies to practices, such as prescription pads and sterile bottles.
- Organise the delivery and tracing of patients’ confidential medical records.
- Register new patients, including newborn babies, correctly.
Unfortunately, despite a lengthy settling-in period where we feel all possible accommodations have been given, Dr C Apita continues to perform below the expected level. We have bags of records piling up and payments missing, and if we try to speak with Dr C Apita directly we are told to write an email, but kept waiting weeks for a (usually inadequate) response. NHS England keeps telling us it is dealing with the issue, but any penalties issued for poor professional performance are unlikely to redress the frustration caused.
The rest of our staff have to work doubly hard to ensure we make up for this underperformance and it is directly impacting on patient care and the stability of our practice, and so we wish to report Dr C Apita to you.
I note that you said in your reply that you cannot take action against a non-GMC-registered professional, but let’s face it, if we had a similar record either you or the Care Quality Commission would suspend our licence or shut our practice down. I note that any junior doctor taking strike action would get short shrift if a patient comes to harm. Surely there is something you can do to help here?
I have to warn you that our staff have been told the current situation must reflect a reduction in the expectations on the rest of us. As it is acceptable to endanger patients and create work for others, we have put a Post-it on the door to say ‘sod off to A&E you malingerers’, switched off the phones, sold all the controlled drugs and gone to the Maldives.
Judging by your previous response, a few thousand patients’ medical care being screwed up is not an issue.
We might send you a postcard. Or not.
Dr Zoe Norris is a GP in Hull. You can follow her on Twitter @dr_zo