Following the below notification sent earlier in the year regarding repatriation of missing items from NHS SBS, GPC has been liaising with NHS England to ensure the process is as simple as possible, support is provided to practices where required, and financial compensation is provided. We have now reached agreement and so would like to provide you with some details.
We have made it clear that whilst practices may, following assessment of the correspondence, need to communicate with individual patients, GPs can in no way be made liable for the failure and delays in the service provided by NHS SBS. However GPs do have professional and legal duties to assist with the response to this incident.
NHS England and NHS SBS have today released statements regarding a significant event which has come to light during the process of transformation of primary care support services (see attached). In the past different areas have had a variety of providers, and different procedures for dealing with clinical letters and results received by practices after patients had left their registered list. This varied from returning to the sender or returning to the primary care support office for onward transfer to the next practice. These procedures were reviewed by NHS England in 2015, unrelated to the PCSE transformation, and it was deemed that just putting the clinical correspondence in the courier bag and sending off to the primary care support office fell short of present governance standards, and the recommendation changed so that misdirected mail was to be sent back to the originator. Instructions were also sent to secondary care to ensure that they used spine data and do not send inappropriate correspondence to the wrong address in the first place.
Prior to April 2016 Primary care support services were provided by a variety of different organisations from NHS in-house offices to those run by other commercial organisations. In three areas these were provided by shared business services (SBS), and during the preparation for handover of SBS operations to the new provider (Capita) it was discovered that a backlog of clinical correspondence and results stretching back over several years remained in storage areas and had not been processed. Just to be clear SBS no longer provides PCSE services, but do still run NHS payment services via the common financial interface.
This is being dealt with by NHS England as a significant event. The correspondence includes temporary resident forms, duplicate documents or some results and communications about treatment steps. They have undertaken a clinical review to assess any high-risk correspondence, which might need action, such as those that have involved an oncology history, or child protection issues. Appropriate safeguarding teams have looked at child protection issues. Dealing with any high-risk case is likely to involve additional work and we insisted this is remunerated - NHS England have included a remuneration package and also a background support package. Relevant GPs are being notified so that in the small number of cases where it may be needed they can take steps to follow up with their patients.
The rest of the items will need to be sent to relevant GPs for review and filing – we are currently discussing a remuneration and support package for practices for this process.
We will provide a full briefing to members once we receive further information from NHS England.
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