Watchdog slaps NHS for failure to tackle correspondence backlog

Finds 1,788 cases of potential harm

The National Audit Office has slapped the NHS Shared Business Services for its failure to handle a backlog of misdirected clinical correspondence, which will cost £6.6m to work through.

The NHS Shared Business Services is a joint venture between the Department of Health and Sopra Steria set up in 2004 to provide support services to the NHS.

A review of the backlog of correspondence in May found 1,788 cases of potential harm to patients.

Managers at NHS SBS had been aware of the clinical risk to patients since January 2014 but did not develop a plan to deal with the backlog.

In March 2016 NHS SBS informed NHS England and the Department of Health (the Department) that it had discovered a backlog of approximately 435,000 items of unprocessed clinical and other correspondence.

NHS SBS accepts it had a contractual responsibility to process misdirected clinical and other correspondence.

NHS England estimates the cost of the incident will be at least £6.6 million for administration alone, and is still discussing with NHS SBS how these costs will be split - said the report.

The Register has contacted Sopra Steria for a comment. ®

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