NHS counts £2.4m cost of lost mail

7 Jun 18

The NHS has wasted nearly £2.4m reviewing the handling of misdirected clinical correspondence, a group of MPs has found.

The Public Accounts Committee found that GPs have been left in the dark because NHS England has failed to clarify how to handle misdirected correspondence.

This has led to a backlog of 374,000 undelivered items of correspondence, which NHS England estimates will have cost £2.4m to review for evidence of harm to patients.

PAC chair Meg Hillier said: “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.

“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.”

Previously, the PAC found that NHS Shared Business Services was responsible for a backlog of 709,000 items of mail meaning that, together, NHS England and NHS SBS are responsible for more than one million pieces of misdirected clinical correspondence.

GPs are supposed to return misdirected correspondence to the sender, but some practices are still sending about 5,000 to 10,000 items each month to Capita in error.

Capita is the current provider of primary care support services for NHS England but since May 2015 has had no contractual responsibility for redirecting correspondence.

The PAC has recommended that NHS England reports back by November 2018 on how it will ensure GP practices are following the correct procedures.

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