The failures in the handling of sensitive clinical data by NHS Shared Business Services Limited (NHS SBS) are staggering. Even as the Committee was looking into problems dating back at least three years, NHS England was uncovering more mishandled correspondence.
We were deeply unimpressed by the lack of grip NHS England still has on the handling of clinical correspondence, and dismayed to be informed of a further backlog of 162,000 items which need to be assessed. Our evidence session was frustrated by the late provision of additional information by the NHS England Chief Executive. It would have been more helpful if this information had been supplied in time to allow Members to consider it. The Committee will return to this subject once it has further information.
Proper handling of clinical correspondence is an essential part of administering care for patients. NHS SBS, the company contracted to redirect up to 700,000 items of mail a year, badly failed the patients and General Practitioners for whom it was supposed to be redirecting correspondence. Almost 2,000 patients are still being assessed by NHS England to determine whether they have suffered harm as a result of the delay in handling their correspondence. NHS England has assumed without evidence that a further 102,000 patients have suffered no harm as a result of the delay. We welcome NHS SBS’s admission that it made mistakes and that the service it delivered was not good enough. However, NHS England and the Department of Health both failed in their oversight of NHS SBS.
27 November 2017