NHS England too slow to tackle misdirected correspondence

06 June 2018

The Public Accounts Committee report warns millions wasted and patient harm cannot be ruled out.

£2.5 million wasted reviewing misdirected clinical correspondence

The NHS has wasted nearly two and a half million pounds reviewing the handling of misdirected clinical correspondence.

Previously we reported that NHS Shared Business Services mishandled sensitive clinical correspondence about patients. However, this time it was NHS England which was far too slow to treat the issue seriously and take action.

As a result, the problem got worse and remedial action for patients was delayed.

1 million pieces of clinical correspondence not been handled appropriately

Over the two incidents, one million pieces of clinical correspondence have not been handled appropriately. NHS England is still assessing nearly 2,000 cases to determine whether there has been harm to patients and has so far identified two incidents where expert consultant review has concluded that patient harm cannot be ruled out.

In view of the record of failings and number of unresolved cases, we will need further assurance that NHS England has finally got a grip of the problem when it reports back to us later this year.

Chair's comments

Comment from Committee Chair, Meg Hillier MP:

"NHS England was slow to tackle this incident with the regrettable consequence that many patients are still in the dark about potentially critical correspondence.

Up to 2,000 cases are still to be assessed by NHS England; in at least two of those reviewed so far, harm to patients cannot be ruled out. Nor can the possibility of still more cases coming to light.

There is a grim irony in the fact that a mass breakdown in communication should then be compounded by poor communication between NHS England and GPs.

Basic administrative efficiency should not be difficult to deliver. The systemic nature of this incident is a big concern and money which should have been spent on patients has instead been spent cleaning up the mess.

NHS England must move to resolve this definitively and keep us abreast of the progress being made."

Further information

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