Public Accounts Committee

Supporting primary care services: NHS England’s contract with Capita inquiry

Inquiry status: open

Scope of the inquiry

In August 2015, NHS England entered into a £330 million, seven-year contract with Capita for primary care support services. These included payments to GP practices, opticians and pharmacies, and supplying needles, syringes and stationery to primary care providers. It also included sending out invitation and recall letters to patients for cervical screening.

According to a recent report by the National Audit Office, problems with Capita’s performance emerged within a year of the contract beginning, with a backlog of medical records building up, and late payments to providers such as GPs, opticians and dentists. 87 women were incorrectly informed they were no longer part of a cervical screening programme.

In September 2016, NHS England intervened to improve Capita’s management of the contract. Since then, Capita reports that its performance has improved, with it meeting 41 or its 45 performance targets by February 2018. However, primary care practitioners in the same timeframe found that only 32 targets were being met.

The National Audit Office found that NHS England’s performance measures for the contract did not cover all that Capita was required to deliver, whilst Capita underestimated the scale and nature of the task at hand.

The Committee will explore what Capita is doing to improve its performance, how NHS England can better manage this contract and similar contracts, and what is being done to ensure no patients are put at risk of harm as a result of problems with support services.

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