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The great medical records movement calamity

by in Admin, Data protection, Medical Records


A large number of Practice Index members have voiced their concerns over the movement of medical records, calling it ‘an Information Governance nightmare’. Records are seemingly going into unlabelled grey bags with no receipts and no signatures.  Many practices are not handing over patient records to delivery drivers, with one practice manager writing, “it’s an absolute shambles and totally unacceptable. We are hanging on to our notes until safe tracking labels appear.”

The story so far

Earlier this year, a new way to move medical records was introduced. Outsourced to Capita, the new service promised a ‘new safe and reliable process that will be both easy to use, and standardised across the country. The launch date given for the new service was from 29 March 2016.

According to communication issued to practices, the new arrangements include:

  • Using one national courier firm, CitySprint, to securely manage the movement of all medical records. CitySprint will deliver and pick up from your practice once a week. Your courier will always have their CitySprint ID card visible when delivering and collecting from your practice.
  • Providing all practices with new shipping bags in three different sizes to use for transporting records.
  • Introducing an online portal where you can track the movement of each record.
  • Moving all records stored by NHS England (for deceased patients and those not registered with a practice) to a central, secure facility.

Since that date, GP practices have been reporting problems with the new service. Delays in roll-out, problems with tracking and labelling processes and technical glitches seem to have become commonplace. A quick visit to the thread on this topic on the Practice Index Forum highlights the issues being faced.

The official line

Following the comments on our forum, Practice Index contacted Capita for their comments. This is the statement they responded with:

“NHS England has asked Capita to deliver a range of changes to primary care support services. This will include improvements for how medical records are moved between GP practices to ensure they remain safe and can be fully tracked and traced in real-time, until they reach their destination.

 “We are currently piloting the new service in one region and when this has concluded the new national service will begin to be launched across the country. In the interim, practices will continue to receive medical records notifications via the NHAIS service as before. CitySprint has taken over from the previous courier arrangement, and is collecting and securely delivering records.

“We are continuing to work closely with NHS England and proactively engaging key stakeholders, including the GPC and LMCs, so we can continue to refine and improve the service going forward.”

Devil is in the detail

While just about everybody involved will openly admit that the roll-out of the new service has been poorly communicated, the biggest confusion seems to surround the actual date of the tracked service roll-out. While Capita took over the service on the date communicated and CitySprint has taken over courier services, a fixed date was never actually given for the tracked element – the devil was in the detail of the wording and the key words were FROM SPRING.

Given the complexities of the different software and systems being used in practices, those involved were never likely to switch off one system one day and turn on the new one on the next.

In the interim

So what does that mean for practices in the interim? When pressed for details of when practice managers can expect to see tracked packages, Capita said it was impossible to say at this stage – but confirmation of when each practice will start using the tracked labels will be communicated.

In the meantime practices are being encouraged to use the service provided to them using the record bags supplied. No labels are required during this interim period – not until the national system goes live anyway. The LMC we spoke to said that practices shouldn’t be concerned about security or further repercussions as this is the only solution being offered to them. However, one practice manager said that they were keeping a simple spreadsheet listing the details of the records being handed over to City Sprint, just in case. Others, understandably, are hanging onto records until the tracked labels are introduced.

It’s also worth noting that, according to its website, CitySprint does use DBS certified drivers for its SecureData service, so there is an element of protection there too. All drivers should carry ID and practices are encouraged to only hand over record bags once that ID has been checked. If in doubt, don’t hand anything over!

As alluded to above, once the system is about to go live, practices will receive confirmation of when to start using labels on shipping bags – until then, for more information and to order additional shipping bags, head along to the PCSE portal.

Why not continue the discussion about the new medical records movement service in the Practice Index Forum, or by commenting below.


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12 Responses to “The great medical records movement calamity”
  1. Anonymous PM Says:

    As requested we bagged and sealed our records to be collected by city sprint on 14th April. The good news was that we received our first, small delivery of notes. The bad news was the driver refused to take our notes, seemingly they are waiting for the labels to get underway. What a complete waste of expensive bags which will need to be opened to be correctly labelled. This refusal to collect notes took place all over Coventry yesterday.


  2. Anonymous PM Says:

    We have a university site as a branch office. The previous deliveries used to go there direct. After two months of communicating with capita and being ignored we finally had a meeting with them in March. They promised to investigate what they could do to assist with the huge volumes of notes needed to be shifted (6k plus a year). Guess what. They have never come back to us! We have been emailing and ringing them for weeks with no response from their managers. Shame on you capita for putting your heads in the sand. One size does not fit all. This whole situation is an information governance explosion in the making. How can our practice be expected to shift such huge volumes of notes and supplies between the two sites!!! CQC will be enlightened when they drill down what is happening when they visit. Prescription control and audit via this system particularly involving a large university second site is poor to say the least. When this story hits the press maybe then someone will listen.


  3. Anonymous Says:

    Is this really as bad as the Daily Mail style opening paragraph would have us believe? I think we’ve actually had enough comms from various sources to know what’s going on. OK, we’ve had no labels yet, which isn’t ideal, but the service we do have seems to be working fine for us.


  4. Anonymous PM Says:

    We have also tried to contact Capita, & have also not had a reply. Has anyone actually received a supply of labels ? My Administrator checked the supply website & found that the bags & labels had prices along side, does this mean we also have to pay for the privilege of yet another NHS change, that clearly isn’t working.


  5. Anonymous PM Says:

    This has to be the most disporganised re-organisation i have ever witnessed in my 36 years in the NHS!
    Our boxes of unlabeled records were collected on Monday. Yesterday we received a meager 4 new records. The new records did not have any new labels on them. No i don’t mean the labels on the bags but the labels on the Lloyd George with the patients name, NHS number, surgery and registered GP details. So are we also expected to re-label these ourselves?
    It is not just the transfer of records which are being affected – we had to order prescriptions 3 times before we received them. This was before we had received our portal log-on details and it took 3 phone calls we us holding on for 25 minutes each time befire we were answered!!!!.

    The other people on here seem to be concerned about the transfer of records and tracking them. Personally I am not. My responsibility ends as soon as we have coded the record as returned and it has been placed in a bag for collection. This is exactly where my responsibility ended with the blue bag. As far as I am concerend there is no responsibility on me to even put the label on the bag, however we probably will but ONLY because it might make life easier for us.


  6. Anonymous Says:

    Capita have also failed us with the lack of blood bottles and associated supplies. Despite communicating with them on a daily basis, having to hold for up to 30 minutes at a time on their emergency phone line, we have still not received the supplies ordered on 29th March and the portal shows “insufficient supplies”. As a result we have had to beg, borrow and buy supplies. Having suggested to Capita they re-imburse us for the supplies we have had to buy due to their failure to supply, their answer at the moment is no!!


  7. Liz scott Says:

    Well ours seems to be working OK so far. We have the bags and some labels and the courier has picked things up and dropped things off.
    The only complaint so far is that some of the Lloyd George notes have new labels on them that don’t have an address, just the name and NHS number. Were not sure if this is a new thing, but we shall see!
    We have taken the precaution of logging the patient’s name and the bar code number before they go and getting the courier to sign for them before he takes them, just in case. But so far so good. (She says with fingers crossed!!)


  8. Sue Harris Says:

    We have not received any lables yet but I wondered if, when we do, they will show a patients NHS number or other identifiable information on them? If so, how can we dispose of the used bags without removing the label? Plastic should not be placed in shredding bins or condential waste disposal bins, I believe.
    Practices everywhere will be disposing of thousands of these bags and yet I thought the drive was to reduce plastic bags, hence the 5p charge in shops for a bag.
    In their defence the bags do say the are recyclable but not around here, in Somerset, they’re not!


  9. Julie G Says:

    The courier has been and has refused to take the fifty sets of notes we had sealed and placed in Reception as there were no tracking labels on them. The last correspondence I received on Tuesday stated that tracking labels were not required. The courier has left us nine sealed sets of notes with tracking labels on them. However, these are not recorded on the GP links on the EMIS Web system. I am checking the website everyday and have been receiving the relevant emails but the information stated is different to that of the couriers instructions.
    We are waiting for patient records for patients who were registered months ago, for whom clinicians have no record of their previous medical history. This is very frustrating for all staff and time consuming for admin staff who have to request summary’s from previous GP Practice.
    I am very worried about patient notes going astray and being untraceable. I understand that this is a transition period but am concern for patient confidentiality and Data Protection.


  10. Lisa Says:

    This whole system is beyond crazy with respect to sue Harris comment I actually sent a complaint about the same thing. This new system makes no sense when the whole country is now having to pay 5p for plastic bags and not fancy resealable ones printed on both sides in color (not cheap) this makes no sense when we can send up to 50 sets of notes per week these bags are not re-usable and we then have to find something to store all of these plastic bags for collection and all of the other things that used to go in the blue bags need to now be sent elsewhere. How is this system better and the environmental foot print this will make with all of the surgery’s using this system the costs must be astronomical this is just wasteful when a box of bags XL box costs £48 and L Box costs £15 and a Reg box costs £9 not to mention the cost of printing labels and the bags , I am actually quite shocked that the NHS think that this is okay. When the rest of the country is making a concerted effort to cut down on the use of disposable plastic bags. Also none of the records on my awaiting records list have been delivered just odd files 5 at the most each delivery the orders take forever to come and absolutely no sign of any any tracking labels I actually followed the van driver to the van where our notes were actually tipped onto the floor of a van on top of what must of been all the previous surgery’s collection notes, I can only imagine that they will then need to be re opened and put into new bags(MORE WASTE) with tracking labels


  11. Peter Says:

    As a city sprint courier working on the capita contract, I can only agree with the comments here, the system is a shambles, if the tracking labels ever become a reality I cannot see that a courier would ever complete there round, this is not only surgeries, ( usually 20+, spread over in my case , 200+ miles) but opticians, dentists and pharmacys delivering goods and forms, including scripts, all drivers are self employed, and get paid a set rate no matter how much goods have to be delivered and collected, if items cannot be delivered through lack of time the customer will have to wait until next week for delivery unless the pay for an extra delivery. It seems to me that Capita and City Sprint did not no what they were taking on. As a NHS user this is very worrying.


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