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.