Capita is an international business process outsourcing and professional services company with its headquarters in London. In other words, the company can be contracted to perform the operations and responsibilities of a specific business process, such as payroll, accounts, human resources or a customer service centre.

Capita business interests are diversified across the private sector (53%) and the public sector (47%).

Capita performs these functions across eight markets - local government, central government, education, transport, health, life and pensions, insurance, and other private sector organisations (including financial services).

Capita had a UK market share of 29.2% in 2016 and employed 73,000 employees.

Long term contracts made up 61% of revenue, with short term making up 39% in 2016.

For the year to end December 2016 Capita reported revenue of £4.9 billion (£4.8 billion in 2015), leading to a pre-tax profit of £74.8 million (£112.1 million in 2015). Profit after tax was £42.3 million (£55.6 million in 2015).

Capita had a torrid 2016 fiscal year, investors temporarily lost confidence in the firm after a series of contracts failures including one with the NHS. The company lost over half its value after a couple of profit warnings, including one in September that wiped out a quarter of its value in one day. Its share prices reached a low of 431p in December 2016.

CEO Andy Parker is due to leave in September 2017, however in June 2017 Capita had yet to find a replacement.

In June 2017 Capita announced the sale of its troubled asset management services arm for almost £900m.

Capita and Primary Care Support Services

Capita took over the coordination of primary care care support services in September 2015. The contract from NHS England was designed to save £40 million per year by bringing together a previously fragmented service to a single national provider for Primary Care Support England (PCSE). Capita's bid hinged on making a £21 million per year saving. The contract is worth £330 million over seven years.

Capita centralised support services to three national hubs and implemented a single online ‘portal’ for practices to order supplies and ‘track’ the movement of patient records. However, since April 2016 when the previous local centres were closed there was a growing number of reports of problems with the services. Problems affected GPs, community pharmacists and optometrists.

Issues with the new service include surgeries running out of presciption pads and syringes and major problems with the secure transfer of patient notes around the country, with notes going missing or delivered to the wrong surgery. GP leaders have been urging practices to report every issue to NHS England.

GPC chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul wrote to NHS England demanding practices be compensated for extra workload due to the ‘systematic failure’ of PCSE, and indemnified against any claims as a result of support service issues.

In November 2016 the GPC (General Practice Council) reported that the support services remain a 'chaotic mess' despite nearly a year since the services were outsourced to Capita.

Dr Nagpaul said Capita “appears to have been considerably underprepared”. The poor service has increased practice workload and cost practices money, he said. He told HSJ: “This is a salutary lesson… it is another example of how the idea of outsourcing appears attractive in offering more for less, but that is based on a very simplistic view of how the NHS functions. The NHS has been very efficient and effective. The NHS functions on organisational memory, and you cannot just take a service over and run it better.”

In June 2017 the pressure group GP Survival announced that it plans to hire debt collectors to go after Capita’ after the firm failed to pay trainee salaries, maternity pay and pension deductions. The debts to GP practices range from £3000 to £40,000.

It subsequently came to light (July 2017) that Capita and NHSE owed GPs a quarter of a million in missing payments.

In November 2016, the GPC produced a new report stating that Capita support services remain a 'chaotic mess' despite nearly a year passing since the comapny took over the contract.

The GPC said that the Government has to 'get a grip' of the situation, which is 'putting patient care and safety at risk'. In November 2016 MPs debated the situation in Parliament. 

Earlier Issues

In January 2013, it was revealed that Capita, under a UK Border Agency Contract, had been misinforming people that they had to leave the UK as they had no valid visa.

In June 2014 five of eight Liverpool NHS Trusts who had contracted their payroll and recruitment to Capita in 2012 withdrew from the contract because of concerns about the quality of the service provided.  

Then in September 2014, West London Mental Health NHS Trust cancelled their contract for human resources services after Capita proved “unable to meet acceptable ‘time to hire’ targets”, particularly for nurses. At the same time Alder Hey Children's NHS Foundation Trust and Liverpool Heart and Chest Hospital NHS Foundation Trust terminated their contracts.

In 2014, a leak to The Guardian revealed that the Department of Work and Pensions had to send civil servants to help the company process personal independence payments for the seriously ill and disabled as "waiting times for assessment have been so long that in some cases people with terminal conditions have died before receiving a penny.”

In February 2015, it was reported that Capita was responsible for a breach of NHS employee’s personal data during the time the company had been in charge of payroll and human resources for trusts in Liverpool.

 

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