Supporting Primary Care Services: NHS England’s contract with Capita Contents


NHS England’s outsourcing of primary care support services to Capita Business Services Ltd (Capita) was a shambles. Its short-sighted rush to slash by a third the £90 million it cost to provide these services was heedless of the impact it would have on the 39,000 GPs, dentists, opticians and pharmacists affected. Capita recognises that the service it provided was not good enough. Its failures have not only been disruptive to thousands of GPs, dentists, opticians and pharmacists, but potentially have also put patients at risk of serious harm. We acknowledge that Capita has now apologised for its mistakes and will hold it to its commitment to improve services over the remaining life of the contract.

Neither NHS England nor Capita understood the service that was being outsourced, and both misjudged the scale and nature of the risks. They ignored many of the basic rules of contracting, and, once problems emerged, did not do enough to stop the issues from getting worse. Rather than focussing on improving the service, NHS England and Capita have spent too long disputing basic elements of the contract and are still in disagreement over future payments. It is clear that NHS England ignored the many lessons this Committee has constantly highlighted about how to outsource effectively and benefit both users and taxpayers.

Published: 25 July 2018