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NHS Outsourcing Could Have Caused Harm to Patients

A report from the National Audit Office has stated that patients could have found themselves at risk of harm due to the outsourcing of NHS services in England.

After back-office services began to be ran by Capita in 2015, 90 women were incorrectly informed they were no longer part of the Cervical Screening Programme. The Audit Office said that these services were “way below” acceptable standards.

There has been no evidence that any patients have actually come to harm, and though the NHS England acknowledged “difficulties,” it also added that the outsourcing had made a saving of £60m.

The deal that was made in 2015 cost the NHS England £330m and was signed for seven years. Capita was to run back-office services for primary care providers, including pharmacists and GP’s, in an attempt to both reduce costs and ‘modernise services.’ Capita took on duties such as moving patients’ medical records, sending out test results to patients, paying GP practices and processing patient registrations.

The report highlighted that patients were potentially put at risk due to problems with the ‘performers list,’ which shows whether GP’s, Opticians etc. were suitably qualified and had passed necessary checks.

Those who prepared the report said, “The failure to update performers lists may have compromised patient safety in cases where practitioners should have been removed.”

The National Audit Office did recognise the £60m saving that had been made within the first two years of the contract and it stated that Capita’s performance was improving against the contract. However, it did also state that the NHS should be reconsidering whether such services should now be taken back in-house instead of continuing to be out-sourced.

However, despite this saving for the NHS, Sir Amyas Morse, Head of the NAO said that real value for money was more than just simple cost reductions: “It is deeply unsatisfactory that, two and a half years into the contract, NHS England and Capita have not reached the level of partnership working required to make a contract like this work effectively.”

A spokeswoman for Capita said, “The report notes that several organisations and legacy issues all contributed to underperformance. It has been acknowledged that performance has improved and Capita will continue to work with all parties to address the small number of remaining service issues.”

Chairman of the British Medical Association’s GP Committee, Dr Richard Vautrey, said that the question would be asked to NHS England of how it was planning to resolve the “shambles” of allowing Capita to run primary care support services.


BBC News. ‘Patients ‘could have been harmed’ After Capita Outsourcing.’ BBC News Online.

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