The running of the NHS cervical screening programme administration will be taken off Capita and brought back in house, NHS England has announced.
Speaking in front of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) yesterday (20 March), NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens said he is not ‘satisfied’ with how the private company has run the cervical screening programme, and will begin the phased transition back in house in June.
Last year, it was revealed that Capita failed to deliver over 47,000 cervical cancer screening letters to patients – an issue it knew about two months before informing NHS England.
At the time, the BMA wrote to NHS England, calling for an end to Capita’s contract for GP back office services, with the GP Committee calling it ‘nothing short of shambolic’.
During yesterday’s session, focusing on adult health screening, Mr Stevens said following these issues the contract will be brought ‘back in house’.
He said: ‘We have not been satisfied with the way in which [Capita] has been performing.’
‘Today I am announcing we are bringing the cervical screening service back in house to the NHS from Capita, beginning in June with a phased transition through the rest of the year,’ he added.
BMA GP Committee executive team member Dr Krishna Kasaraneni said: ‘We have long been raising concerns about Capita’s frankly shambolic running of GP support services – and most notably called for their contract to be stripped when it was revealed at the end of last year that thousands of patients had not received vital information about cervical screening, potentially putting these them at risk.
‘It is only right that NHS England has followed through and removed this service from Capita, and now any transition process must be robust and not be done as a cost-cutting exercise at the expense of patient safety.
‘Furthermore, we know there are still fundamental ongoing issues with Capita’s delivery of other backroom functions including the transfer of patient records, pensions administration and payments to practices, and we demand that NHS England ultimately takes responsibility for all of these shortcomings, and brings these back in-house as well.’
A Capita spokesperson said: ‘Returning administrative support of the cervical screening programme in England in-house is consistent with the approach in all other national screening programmes and will enable better integration across those programmes.
‘We support NHS England’s decision as part of its broader review of screening services, and we will work together to ensure a seamless transition.’
In January, Public Health England announced a new campaign to urge more women to test for cervical cancer, after data revealed coverage has reached the lowest point in two decades, despite an increase in the number of eligible women being invited.
This story was first published on our sister publication Pulse.