NHS England has set Capita the goal of stabilising its General Ophthalmic Services (GOS) payments by the end of October and resolving all outstanding issues by December, in a new action plan.
In the meantime, NHS England has hit Capita with financial penalties in response to the “unacceptable service” it has provided since taking the contract earlier this year to provide primary care support services in England.
These actions by NHS England were outlined in a new letter from the organisation’s national director of transformation and corporate operations, Karen Wheeler.
Ms Wheeler’s letter responds to correspondence from AOP chief executive, Henrietta Alderman, Local Optical Committee Support Unit managing director, Katrina Venerus, Federation of Ophthalmic and Dispensing Opticians chief executive, David Hewlett, and Association of British Dispensing Opticians, Sir Anthony Garrett.
Ms Wheeler apologised for the issues, and emphasised that she recognises “the significant impacts these issues can have on cash-flow for the many small businesses, as well as the burden of having to spend time resolving the payment issues.”
She continued: “Capita has delivered an unacceptable service recently, which falls way below the standard of service that we commissioned them to provide … Progress has been made, but we know that the level of queries relating to missed or incorrect payments is still too high.”
Ms Wheeler also highlighted that she and her team will continue to regularly monitor Capita’s progress towards the full resolution of all issues, which have included late and incorrect GOS payments, form order problems and customer service enquiry delays.
Responding to Ms Wheeler’s letter on behalf of the profession, Ms Venerus said: “We welcome the honesty from NHS England to accept there have been unacceptable service failures and to apologise for the difficulties and pressures these have added to optical contractors and professionals in England.
“We have seen Capita’s plans and we will maintain week-by-week scrutiny to verify improvements are in line with the recovery plan. We will continue to keep the sector informed as usual,” she concluded.
Image credit: Dafne Cholet