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Blunder that saw 160,000 patient records wrongly archived is latest unacceptable failing from Capita, says BMA

NHS England has today written to GP practices1 to inform them that 160,000 patient records were mistakenly archived rather than transferred to surgeries, in the latest error from the Primary Care Support England programme, delivered by Capita.

Responding, Dr Richard Vautrey, BMA GP committee chair, said:

“Capita2 has presided over a litany of failings3 since they took charge of backroom support for GP services almost four years ago, from issues with payments to practices, to the very serious error that came to light last year, when tens of thousands of patients were left without important correspondence about cervical screening.

“160,000 patients’ records wrongly archived rather than forwarded to practices is just the latest major error and while it is shocking we cannot say we are surprised. Capita has consistently proved itself unfit to hold this contract. NHS England has at last listened to the BMA and now plans to bring cervical smear administration back-in house, and with this latest blunder they now must urgently do the same for all of these services.

“And while NHS England tells us that they do not believe any patients have come to any harm, this assertation is based on a sample from just one area of the country, which may not be enough to back up such claims. Patients cannot be allowed to be put at risk because of the incompetence of one supplier, and NHS England must offer support to anyone affected.

“Even if no patient has been harmed, we find ourselves having the same conversations about a new Capita failing, and it is completely unacceptable that this is being allowed to happen again. 

“Ultimately, it will be GP practices, already under-pressure from heavy workloads, to bear the brunt of sorting out the mess left behind by Capita, and NHS England must ensure surgeries also receive the support and resources needed to do so.”


Notes to editors

The BMA is a trade union representing and negotiating on behalf of all doctors in the UK. A leading voice advocating for outstanding health care and a healthy population. An association providing members with excellent individual services and support throughout their lives.

  1. A document sent this morning outlines that, due to a processing error, 160,000 records of patients who had de-registered with GP practices were retained in archives instead of being released and sent to new practices when the patients re-registered. For full information, please contact NHS England.
  2. Capita is responsible for Primary Care Support England (PCSE), of which the transportation of records is a service.
  3. Find more information of the BMA’s work around Capita and PCSE here

For further information please contact:

British Medical Association, BMA House, Tavistock Square, London, WC1H 9JP
Telephone: 020 7383 6448 
Email: [email protected]
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