Capita failing on managing patient records, says BMA
Patient care is being harmed by failures in a records-management service run for the NHS in England by Capita, doctors' leaders have said.
The British Medical Association says problems include delays in records being transferred, even when urgently needed for patient care.
NHS England said it was aware of the issues but that they were being addressed.
Capita apologised for the "varied quality" of services.
The BMA issued its warning after asking representatives around England for their experiences of the Primary Care Support England (PCSE) services.
The anecdotal reports that came back described what the BMA says are "serious problems with the management of patient records".
As well as problems with patients' records, doctors reported delays in GP trainee budgets and failures to provide supplies to practices.
Dr Chaand Nagpaul, BMA GP committee chair, said: "Local GPs are reporting to the BMA that they are facing unacceptable delays in patient record transfers and mistakes in maintaining supplies of crucial medical equipment, like syringes and even prescription paper.
"These mistakes are directly impacting on the ability of many GPs to provide safe, effective care to their patients.
"They are in some cases being left without the essential information they need to know about a new patient and the tools to treat them."
In a letter responding to the BMA, NHS England said it shared those concerns,
It added: "Capita has delivered an unacceptable level of performance... which does not reflect the standard of service that we commissioned Capita to provide."
But it said changes were being made, and it believed Capita's service would improve.
A Capita spokeswoman said: "We fully recognise that the services we provide play a key role in supporting primary care providers and apologise for the level and varied quality of service we have provided across a number of PCSE services.
"We are continuing to work closely with NHS England and our focus remains on delivering these important services at an optimum level."
She said there had been problems with the service before Capita took over.
"The pace, scale and complexity of introducing the changes NHS England requires to transform the PCSE service from a highly localised and inconsistent system, that was neither measured or monitored, to a more standardised and centralised model, is undoubtedly challenging and has resulted in some service users having varied and, on occasion, substandard experiences for which we have openly apologised."