Capita has been stripped of its contract to administer a cervical screening programme by NHS chiefs in England after failings. The service will be brought back in-house from June this year.

 

The news was announced in front of the Public Accounts Committee by Simon Stevens, NHS England CEO, who said he was not ‘satisfied’ with the way the company had run the service.

 

Last year, Capita failed to deliver nearly 50,000 letters to women about their smear tests but neglected to tell NHS England about the error for two months.

 

The cervical screening service is part of the huge £330 million Primary Care Support Services contract, that Capita was awarded back in 2015.

 

Since taking over the services, there has been a regular stream of reported problems. The issues with the cervical cancer screening programme are amongst the most recent to come to light.

 

Failures have ranged from surgeries running out syringes and prescription pads to more serious problems with the secure transfer of patient notes around the country. Notes have reportedly gone missing or have been delivered to the wrong surgery. The administration of pensions has also been mishandled and the problems have affected GPs, dentists, opticians and pharmacists.

 

The National Audit Office (NAO)  concluded that Capita’s failures in running the contract meant that patients had been “put at serious risk of harm”

 

The NAO had also recommended that NHS England should determine whether all current services within the contract are best delivered through that contract or whether they should be taken back in-house.

Colzeno Jarret-Thorpe speaking on behalf of Unite, who represent biomedical scientists working in the cytology service, had also asked the Secretary of State to step in.

“There are already several months in backlogs in patients receiving their cervical test results. This is traumatic for patients and is caused by not just the extra demand for cervical screening, but also the shortage of scientific staff who conduct the tests.”

 

Capita’s finances are not in good shape and the announcement of the loss of the cervical screening programme will not help confidence in the company. The company has just announced a 26% fall in profits to £282.1 million in 2018 and revenue down 5% to £3.87 billion.

 

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