A Solihull reader alerts us to an award-winning Pulse magazine report that medical practices are facing delays as patient records and supplies are missing and payments made late. Alex Matthews-King, who wrote the article, reports on the situation using data published in April 2016 – two years after the private company Capita won the £330m contract to provide primary care support services, with a budget cut of 40%.
In 2014 Dr Robert Morley, the Birmingham and Solihull representative on the BMA General Practitioners’ Committee (GPC), anticipated problems when it was announced that NHS England was outsourcing primary care support services to save money.
A Pulse survey of more than 500 GPs and practice managers revealed the full administrative challenge practices are facing; GPs report:
- missed referrals,
- delayed care
- delayed supplies
- a major backlog of unprocessed records
- cancelling clinics due to patient records not being available
- new NHS numbers not being issued quickly enough
- practice payments are delayed.
In one case a practice was reported to the Information Commissioner’s Office for being unable to provide records, while another could not fulfil a court order because two patients’ records were missing. Another had to wait 15 days for a violent patient to be removed from its list.
The BMA’s General Practitioners Committee (GPC) passed a vote of no confidence in Capita in July, its chairman stating the problems are ‘putting patients at risk’ and causing ‘serious disruption’ to practices. Even NHS England says it is ‘disappointed’ in the service, and is ‘vigorously holding Capita to account’.
However, to date, problems with medical supplies have persisted; 33% of GPs and practice managers told Pulse their practice was experiencing delays, forcing them to ‘borrow, swap and beg’ supplies such as FP10 prescription pads, needles and sterile cups. And 18% of all respondents said patient care had been affected.
Capita says it is improving its systems, now moving records within three to six weeks, fulfilling ‘more than 90%’ of clinical supplies orders placed in August and all new registrations will be completed by the end of the summer.