• Around 160,000 patient records were held in archives rather than being sent on to new GP practices
  • Approximately 30,000 patient records were held in archives run by third parties that pre-date 2015 Capita contract
  • Most GP practices in England thought to be affected by incident
  • NHS England has said no patients thought to be harmed 

Tens of thousands of patient records have been wrongly archived instead of being sent to GPs when patients registered with their practice, it emerged today.

The blunder at the Capita-run Primary Care Support England service is thought to have affected around 130,000 patients, while a further 30,000 records have been wrongly archived by third parties.

The records were stored when patients stopped being registered with their GPs but the error led to the records remaining in the archives rather than being sent on when patients registered with a new GP.

Most of the records were held in archives for between six and 18 months, though “there are some records that date back three years,” NHS England said in a letter sent to GPs and seen by HSJ.

PCSE first reported the incident to NHSE in late October 2018. PCSE has now identified all the patient records affected. Around 90,000 have already been sent to practices and the rest will be sent in the coming weeks.

NHSE said it will write to affected practices shortly. Practices will be asked to review incoming patient records. If they find there has been any “adverse consequence because of the delay,” practices should tell the patients as well as NHSE.

Although the incident has affected most GP practices in England, NHSE has said most will “have fewer than 20 delayed records to process”.

However, as some of the records are for patients from closed practices, there will be “some hotspots where large numbers of patients have re-registered with another local practice”.

A Capita spokeswoman said: “A number of paper medical records were not redirected by PSCE when patients moved to new GP practices. There is no indication that any harm has occurred to any patients as a result of the paper records delay.

“We are working to deliver these physical records as quickly as possible and have taken steps [to] ensure this does not happen again. We apologise to any patients and GP practices affected.”

NHSE is also carrying out follow-up investigations into around 30,000 records that were held in third-party archives used before Capita took over the PCSE contract in 2015.

An NHSE spokesman said: “There is no evidence to suggest that any patient has come to any harm as a result of this issue and Capita is now delivering any delayed patient records to the correct GP practices as quickly as possible, with the majority of correspondence returned.”

However, British Medical Association GP lead Richard Vautrey challenged the statement on patient harm, saying this “assertion is based on a sample from just one area of the country [an earlier pilot run in the south west of England], which may not be enough to back up such claims”.

Dr Vautrey added: “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.”