Private provider of primary care support services criticised by the GPC

Topics covered: Ridouts professional advice

In September 2015 Capita were awarded a 7 year contract worth £330m to provide primary care support services- back office support to primary care services. Eight months on the chair of the GPC, Dr Chaand Nagpaul, has criticised the poor performance of the contract in an open letter to NHS chiefs.

He has called for compensation to be awarded to primary care services for the inconveniences caused to practices due to failings in service delivery. The contract was awarded with the ambition of creating significant savings for NHS England and they appear to have nominally achieved that aim with a reduction in costs of £21m annually. Those savings could be dwarfed by the cost of an inadequate back office support service as the current system appears to be.

The key demands the GPC seeks clarification from NHS England within the letter are:

·           exactly what is being done to resolve and stabilise the service

·           that no further plans will be implemented until they have been thoroughly tested, and proved to be safe, but also acceptable to end users

·           sufficient numbers of adequately trained staff are available (halting office closure plans if required)

·           lessons will be learnt, by altering the service specification with Capita and by providing additional funding support for practices

·           any current or future PMS reviews should take into account the increased workload when deciding on appropriate levels of funding

·           any governance breaches should be investigated and NHS England must indemnify GPs who have acted reasonably, but find through no fault of their own, breaches of any CQC or information governance issues as a result of these changes.

Dr Nagpaul writes in his letter that the ambition for the relaunched primary care support service seemed to focus disproportionately on the reduction in financial cost.  Issues with the service have ranged from uncollected patient records, missing payments and the failure to deliver practice supplies. The GPC had raised these matters with Capita but felt the need to raise the issues with NHS England as the organisation with ultimate responsibility for the contract.

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