NHS England 'far too slow' to address misdirected clinical correspondence issue

Desiree Burns
June 8, 2018

NHS England issued guidance in November previous year that Global Positioning System should not prescribe "homeopathic treatments" as a new treatment for any patient.

One million pieces of clinical correspondence "have not been handled appropriately", with the PAC demanding further assurance that NHS England has "finally got a grip of the problem".

Previously GPs forwarded clinical correspondence to local primary care services centres, and a proportion erroneously continued to do so after the contract was outsourced to Capita.

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

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.

Over the two incidents, one million pieces of clinical correspondence had not been handled appropriately, and NHS England is still assessing nearly 2,000 cases to determine whether there has been harm to patients.

So far, two incidents have been identified where expert consultant review has concluded that patient harm can not be ruled out.

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 can not be ruled out".

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She added: "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 Global Positioning System".

"Basic administrative efficiency should not be hard to deliver".

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

The charity's main claims were that NHS England's consultation "misrepresented homeopathy and therefore was unfair; and a report used in the consultation to inform the public was so complicated it would deter rather than encourage people to respond".

"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".

The High Court has backed NHS England's decision to stop funding homeopathic remedies - which had been costing £92,000 a year.

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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