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NHS England’s poor partnership with Capita may have put patients at risk (31 May 2018)

Date: 31/05/2018
Duncan Lewis, Legal News Solicitors, NHS England’s poor partnership with Capita may have put patients at risk

Patients may have been put at risk as a result of NHS services in England being outsourced to Capita according to the National Audit Office (NAO) the public spending watchdog.

The report reveals that nearly 90 women were wrongly told that they were no longer part of the cervical screening programme after Capita began to run back-office services in 2015, potentially putting them at great risk.

Although the report found that no harm to any of the women had been found, it also described the services to be ‘way below’ an acceptable standard. In return, NHS England acknowledged that there had been ‘difficulties’ but pointed out that the £330m deal with Capita had saved them £60m.

The seven year deal, struck in 2015, determined that Capita would run back-office functions for GPs, dentists and pharmacists in order to reduce costs and attempt to modernise services. Capita’s duties involved; sending test results, moving patients’ medical records, processing registrations and pays GP practices.

According to NAO’s report, the significant issues regarding patient safety resulted from problems updating the so-called ‘performers list’, a list of GPs, dentists and opticians practicing within the NHS. Crucially, the list included details on whether or not they were suitably qualified and had passed all the relevant checks.

“The failure to update performers’ lists may have compromised patient safety in cases where practitioners should have been removed.” Explained the authors of the report.

Additionally, delays in processing new applications for the performers list in 2016 amounted to around 1000 GPs, dentists and opticians being unable to work.

An NHS spokesperson defended the deal, pointing out that the £60m saved had been reinvested into front-line care, funding the equivalent of an extra 30,000.

However, Sir Amyas Morse, head of the NAO voiced his disapproval, pointing out that value for money was “…more than just about cost reduction.”

“It is deeply unsatisfactory that, two and a half years into the contract, NHS England and Capita have not yet reached the level of partnership working required to make a contract like this work effectively.”

The NAO added that NHS England would do well to consider taking the services back in-house.

With Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt previously reporting that up to 270 women in England may have died because they did not receive invitations to a final routine breast cancer screening due to IT problems, the NHS is facing further strains in what is already a difficult period for the health service due to staff shortages and insufficient funding.

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