NHS England fingered over failure to forward patient correspondence

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The NHS has wasted nearly £2.5m on reviewing the handling of misdirected clinical correspondence, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has said.

In a blog post last month (May 6), the BHA said its application to overturn the commissioner's decision was based on the view that NHS England's public consultation on scrapping certain treatments from prescription "was fundamentally flawed" as the commissioner "failed to properly consult on its proposal to ban prescriptions for homeopathic medicine".

It follows a similar incident in which more than 700,000 patient records went undelivered under the NHS Shared Business Services contract - a joint venture with Steria.

According to a House of Commons Committee report entitled Clinical correspondence handling in the NHS, the NHS has wasted £2.4m reviewing the handling of misdirected clinical correspondence.

The body is still assessing almost 2,000 cases to determine whether there has been any harm to patients as a result and has so far identified two incidents where it can not be ruled out. In the other case, the patient is now deceased and NHS England is trying to find the family to inform them of the incident.

"Amid the long-standing chaos caused by the outsourcing of GP support services, as clearly exposed by the recent National Audit Office report, this further publication is another damning indictment of NHS England's inability to delivery basic administrative efficiency in back-office systems".

An NHS England spokesperson said: 'In March 2016 NHS England established a team to review a backlog of clinical correspondence, reported at that time, by the SBS company.

He added: "Given the ongoing confusion and lack of effective communication, it is regrettable yet understandable that some practices may have, in good faith, sent misdirected correspondence on to PCSE. So we strongly welcome the High Court's clear cut decision to kick out this costly and spurious legal challenge".

NHS England had stated that a small proportion of Global Positioning System had been sending clinical correspondence and other material to Capita, instead of following guidance.

Since 2015, 709,000 items of clinical correspondence were lost in transit between hospitals and GP practices - with a further 162,000 pieces unveiled in November.

In one case a GP spoke to the patient about a referral that should have taken place.

But the documents were instead stored in a warehouse and unearthed in 2015.

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