GP patient records wrongly archived by Capita
Author: Adrian O'Dowd
The majority of 160,000 patient records due to be sent to GP practices in England were mistakenly archived instead by Capita, the company delivering the Primary Care Support England (PCSE) programme, it has been revealed.
The processing error has been confirmed in a new letter sent by NHS England to GP practices informing them of the mistake, but it also explains that most of the missing records have either now been sent to practices or will be soon.
These records of patients who had de-registered with GP practices should have been transferred to new practices when the patients re-registered but were mistakenly archived, said NHS England, which also stressed that there was no evidence to suggest any patients had come to harm as a result of the problem.
In March, NHS England stripped Capita of its contract to provide cervical screening administration to the NHS after it had emerged that as many as 48,500 women had not received information regarding cervical cancer screening after a system error.
The British Medical Association (BMA) condemned the latest development, describing it as another “blunder” by Capita.
Dr Richard Vautrey, BMA GP committee chair, said: “Capita has presided over a litany of failings since they took charge of backroom support for GP services almost four years ago, from issues with payments to practices, to the very serious error that came to light last year, when tens of thousands of patients were left without important correspondence about cervical screening.
“160,000 patients’ records wrongly archived rather than forwarded to practices is just the latest major error and while it is shocking we cannot say we are surprised. Capita has consistently proved itself unfit to hold this contract. NHS England has at last listened to the BMA and now plans to bring cervical smear administration back-in house, and with this latest blunder they now must urgently do the same for all of these services.
“While NHS England tells us that they do not believe any patients have come to any harm, this assertation is based on a sample from just one area of the country, which may not be enough to back up such claims. Patients cannot be allowed to be put at risk because of the incompetence of one supplier, and NHS England must offer support to anyone affected.
“Ultimately, it will be GP practices, already under-pressure from heavy workloads, to bear the brunt of sorting out the mess left behind by Capita, and NHS England must ensure surgeries also receive the support and resources needed to do so.”
A Capita spokesperson said the issue related to 130,000 records since Capita took on the contract, out of more than six million moved each year, and 30,000 records predated its contract.
The spokesperson said: “A number of paper medical records were not redirected by PCSE when patients moved to new GP practices. There is no indication that any harm has occurred to any patients as a result of the paper records delay. Patients’ electronic records have not been affected.
“We are working to deliver these physical records as quickly as possible and have taken steps to ensure this does not happen again. We apologise to any patients and GP practices affected.”