UK-based outsourcing company Capita has failed to send letters to approximately 48,500 women regarding cervical cancer screening dates or test results, following a system error.

Approximately 4,000 of the letters contained test results and the remaining were meant to invite women for screening or reminded them of test dates.

The British Medical Association (BMA) expressed concern to the chief executive of NHS England Simon Stevens, saying that the incident is one of the many failings by Capita.

“Capita noted that it was investigating the incident and had appointed an independent audit team to review into PCSE operational systems and processes.”

Capita secured a seven to ten-year contract from the NHS in 2015 to provide administrative support services for primary care in England.

In its letter to the NHS England, the BMA has asked the health service to dissolve the contract and take Primary Care Support England (PCSE) services back in-house.

BMA GP committee chair Richard Vautrey said: “Since it took responsibility for GP back room functions three years ago, Capita‘s running of these services has been nothing short of shambolic and after repeated warnings from the BMA and government, this is now clear evidence that its failings have put patient safety – and possibly lives – at risk.

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“It is ultimately NHS England that bears overall responsibility and it must now take this service back in-house. As the body which commissioned Capita to take on this work, despite clear warning signs that it was not up to the job, NHS England must shoulder the blame for this dreadful situation; you cannot outsource responsibility.”

NHS England said that Capita had notified it on the error, as well as written to those affected and informed GP practices.

Capita noted that it was investigating the incident and had appointed an independent audit team to review into PCSE operational systems and processes.

The company said: “We have investigated the precise circumstances around this incident, and it is clear that the correct process for uploading, organising and checking data files was not properly followed.

“We have upgraded checks in place at every stage of the process and offered NHS England additional resource as this issue was resolved.”