GP practices missing 400,000 clinical letters due to Capita handover

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There is a backlog of hundreds of thousands of pieces of clinical correspondence that have not been directed to GPs as a result of NHS England's failure to resolve problems associated with their contract with Capita, Government auditors have found.

The National Audit Office also found that efforts to resolve the problem had to be halted after NHS England sent patient notes – including child protection details for three children – to a supermarket with the same postcode as a GP practice.

GP leaders said that both NHS England and Capita have 'failed to get to grips' with the problem of clinical correspondence that had been sent to the wrong practice.

NHS England admitted that it did not know the level of patient harm that had resulted from these problems, but it will be publishing a report on this in April.

The problems came about following the transfer of primary care support services to Capita. Under the contract with Capita, the company was not obliged to handle clinical correspondence that was erroneously sent to GP practices - contrary to the previous system, that saw GP practices sending the misdirected correspondence to the support services. 

However, there was a backlog of this correspondence already from the previous system, and GPs had continued to send the correspondence to Capita, which saw this backlog grow.

Capita told the auditors that it could have informed NHS England earlier about the growing backlog.

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