Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has stated that errors made by NHS Shared Business Services in redirecting and forwarding correspondence has resulted in some doctors missing out on certain forms of correspondence dating back as many as five years.
Errors were revealed in a statement released by Jeremy Hunt to Parliament.
The NHS has already indicated its intention to write to affected doctors in the three vulnerable regions of North East London, the East Midlands and South West of England.
Shared Business Services (SBS) was contracted to provide primary care support services in these three areas until April 2016.
NHS Shared Business Services has already made a statement on the subject, recognising that mistakes have been made and resolving to improve in the future.
“Shared Business Services has identified an issue whereby some correspondence in the mail redirection service has not reached the intended recipients. We would like to express our regret for this situation, and we are working with NHS England to return all delayed correspondence to GP practices for filing in medical records as quickly as possible.”
SBS has nonetheless indicated that there would be a relatively trivial number of cases in which GPs would be forced to contact patients in order to resolve the correspondence issue.
NHS England had commissioned the mail redirection service with the intention of enabling Patient correspondence to be traced more efficiently.
But it now seems that the system has caused as many problems as solved issues.
NHS England has already stated that an internal investigation into the matter began back in January 2016.
A “team including clinical experts’ is now working through the backlog to review and resend mail correctly,” according to the body.
Despite the efforts to resolve the situation, it is obvious that missed correspondence could have some very grave impacts on patients.
It is common for such correspondence to be relatied to follow-up medical treatment, and thus there is pressure on NHS England to address the matter as quickly as possible to restore faith in the service.
Discharged patients are often unaware of whether an additional consultation with a GP is required, and this correspondence is a central part of the medical procedure.
A spokesperson for NHS England indicated that the organisation is aware of the difficulties and working hard to improve the situation.
“Early investigations have shown that this issue occurred between 2011 and 2016. Some correspondence forwarded to NHS SBS was not re-directed or forwarded to GP surgeries or linked to the medical record when the sender sent correspondence to the wrong GP or the patient changed practice. The correspondence included temporary resident forms, duplicate documents or some results and communications about treatment steps.”
However, this can only be considered an embarrassment for the NHS authorities, particularly as the dangers of mail redirection being dropped from primary care support services had been outlined by many GPs and other healthcare professionals when this occurred back in April.