Over 1.5 million patient records could be delayed in transit or unaccounted for under a new primary care support service run by a private provider, according to the UK’s leading forum for practice managers.
GP practices have told Practice Index that “piles of notes” to be sent to other surgeries have not been collected and large numbers of records have not been delivered under the service run by primary care support services provider Capita, which won a 10-year contract with the NHS last year.
Despite the service being introduced four months ago, practice managers have confirmed that the issues continue to blight the service, which could put safety at risk if notes are unavailable when patients switch practices.
The problems could potentially affect over a million patient records if numbers received by Practice Index apply across all practices.
Practice Index’s analysis has revealed that potentially up to 5% of a practice’s patient records are currently “lost in transit”, while one practice said that the records of 129 out of 137 new practice registrations were yet to be delivered by Capita.
As well as records remaining undelivered, one practice said that 70% of the records received were for patients not registered with that practice.
The forum also found that collections of records, outsourced by Capita to CitySprint, were “sporadic at best” and often the vehicles used were too full to collect new records.
James Dillon, managing director of Practice Index, commented: “This issue could affect millions of patients across the UK and it is only a matter of time before we experience a significant event through prescribing/treatment/care which has the potential to end in loss of life.
“Patients need their notes to follow them to new practices in a timely fashion to ensure safe care. This is not happening and puts GPs and their patients in a difficult situation.”
Dillon added: “Some large multi-practice groups are saying that they have thousands of records that are unaccounted for. That’s simply dangerous for patients and GPs and is denying patients the levels of care they should be receiving from the NHS. Yet, nobody seems willing to even admit there’s a problem, let alone find a resolution.”
Despite the problem first coming to light in April, practices say they are struggling for their voice to be heard as the NHS and local commissioning trusts are failing to respond.
Reports of emails being deleted without response by the service provider have also been shared.
Last year the British Medical Authority warned about the potential impact of outsourcing primary care support.
Despite this and the ongoing concerns, NHS England will wait more than a year before it publishes its report of serious and significant events recorded for primary care support services since Capita took over.
While the outsourced service is running in England and Wales, practices in Scotland are also sharing concerns over the records of patients moving to Scotland going missing.