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a westminster imageJune 11 2018

The NHS has wasted nearly two and a half million pounds reviewing the handling of misdirected clinical correspondence, the Public Accounts Committee at Westminster has said.

In reviewing how NHS England had dealt with concerns about the NHS Shared Business Service “mishandling sensitive clinical correspondence”, the PAC said: “In view of the record of failings and number of unresolved cases, we will need further assurance that NHS England has finally got a grip of the problem when it reports back to us later this year.”

The PAC made the comments in its ‘Clinical correspondence handling in the NHS’ report published on June 6. Previously it had reported on the NHS Shared Business Service problems arising from the outsourcing of Primary Care Support England’s services to Capita. “However, this time it was NHS England that was far too slow to treat the issue seriously and take action,” it said. “As a result, the problem got worse and remedial action for patients was delayed. 

“Over the two incidents, one million pieces of clinical correspondence have not been handled appropriately. NHS England is still assessing nearly 2,000 cases to determine whether there has been harm to patients and has so far identified two incidents where expert consultant review has concluded that patient harm cannot be ruled out.”

The BMA has described the PAC’s findings as a “damning indictment on NHS England”.

Dr Richard Vautrey, BMA GP committee chair, said: “Amid the longstanding chaos caused by the outsourcing of GP support services, as clearly exposed by the recent National Audit Office report, this further publication is another damning indictment of NHS England’s inability to deliver basic administrative efficiency in back-office systems.

“Given the ongoing confusion and lack of effective communication, it is regrettable yet understandable that some practices may have, in good faith, sent misdirected correspondence on to PCSE. This would have been the arrangement before NHS England tried to cut costs by commissioning PCSE services to Capita two years ago.

“Overall this report underlines the need for NHS England to get to grips with a problem that has been disrupting general practice for years, and to introduce an effective system that guarantees safe and efficient care for patients.”

Links:
PAC ‘Clinical correspondence handling in the NHS’ report. June 6 2018
BMA comment 

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