NHS England and Capita failed dentists and patients

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Mismanagement of NHS England dental admin by CapitaGrotesque” says BDA

NHS England admits its failures were "unacceptable" as MPs zero in on true cost of outsourcing to Capita.

The British Dental Association (BDA) has welcomed MPs’ scrutiny into NHS England’s failings when it hived off its primary care admin function to troubled subcontractor Capita.

Drawing from the BDA’s written evidence to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on the catastrophic impact this had on dentists and patients alike, the committee’s chair, Meg Hillier, asked NHS England’s directors what they had to say to the patients who could not get their dental treatment while dentists were having to wait months for an NHS performer number to be processed.

In a further exchange during the oral evidence session on Capita’s failings, Meg Hillier asked NHS England’s national director for transformation and corporate operations, Emily Lawson, if, in hindsight, she would put a different balance on the £30 million a year that the NHS is saving from this contract, compared with the direct human impact on people who were living with toothache or worse while they waited for a dentist to be registered or for their paperwork to go through?

Ms Lawson conceded that dentists having to wait for months for their NHS performer number was unacceptable and it should not have happened. She acknowledged that there are still places where healthcare professionals, including dentists, are still waiting months, which she agreed isn't good enough.

Henrik Overgaard-Nielsen, the BDA's chair of General Dental Practice, said: “The BDA has repeatedly called on NHS England to take ownership over its grotesque mismanagement at Capita, so we welcome MPs calling it to account.

“The Public Accounts Committee appeared to agree with our view that NHS England’s fixation with ‘saving’ money failed spectacularly to take account of the human cost on the hundreds of dentists who were forced to wait for months before they could care for patients or support their families.

“The PAC has exposed NHS England’s outsourcing of its admin function by in-house staff who knew what they were doing to Capita who didn’t for what it is – a false economy, which short-changes patients and taxpayers and undermines the NHS itself.”