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back to article NHS helpline 'won't be cost-effective' to taxpayers - Capita

Capita has expressed concerns over the tender process to provide a replacement service for NHS Direct – following a report that it had withdrawn from the bidding. Another private sector government service provider, Serco, has already confirmed that it took an internal decision not to bid in the multi-million pound replacement …

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What's wrong with NHS Direct?

Or is this a re branding exercise?

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Re: What's wrong with NHS Direct?

NHS111 is much broader than NHS Direct was - the key change is that the out-of-hours service has been integrated into it, so that you now have just one number to call which can triage you and not just direct you to further services but also book appointments for you. In essence it's undoubtedly a very sensible consolidation of services. Whether its works or not will be down to its implementation (which has had a lot of thought put into it) and how well staffed the private sector contractors end up being - and this is not something that past experience suggests is guaranteed!

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Hmmmm

Okay, I don't really have a view on how good/bad the NHS helpline could be since I haven't used such services but the line from Capita:

"Clearly there are ways that the NHS Direct helpline could be improved and run more efficiently. However, the current tender process is not constructed in a manner that will result in cost-effective services that can flex to the dynamic needs of the public."

Does rather sound like: "They won't let us outsource it to India so we are not playing"

Or am I too cynical? :)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Hmmmm

Nope - it is Crapita after all. Having worked for them in the past, I can safely say the needs of the public would be a very distant thought...

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Re: Hmmmm

That's a roundabout way to a far simpler argument:

"we will not make enough profit to pay for my next yacht, so we will play hardball".

Don't forget that they know a new deal must be hammered out soon, so this is simply gaming for just how much they can cream the tax payer over and above what it's actually worth.

If I had some cash I'd create a new company, take advantage of the "buy more from small firms" statement (which they still have to prove) and beat the crap out of Crapita by being more efficient with the money (which is really not hard - any larger firm generates inefficiencies such as large CEO pensions etc).

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Hmmmm

To be fair to Capita, their board aren't getting that much for running a £3bn turnover business (in fact all board costs represent about about 0.1% of total costs). I certainly wouldn't want their CEO's job for the paltry seven times my measly salary. And the directors are on the same proportionate pension contribution as the plebs.

The inefficiencies they have are (like all crappy BPO companies, including HP, IBM, Accenture et al) are on their balance sheet, where they've built the business by debt funded acquisitions, leading to the top half of the balance sheet being weighted down by tons of "goodwill" (translation: "money we overpaid when buying other companies"), and the bottom half is similarly weighted by debt, that requires regular cash payments of interest. That's why they are always trying to cut costs, rather than to pay for new yachts, and in fact none of the board got a brass razoo for their performance in 2011, and the base salary is intended to be lower quartile by design.

So your Notcapita plc should go on to do great things so long as you remember never to buy other companies. But if you think that by paying yourself nothing that you'll start securing the big tenders, then I'll be surprised!

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Facepalm

If even Capita won't touch it

it's got to be *really* bad.

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I have called NHS direct a few times

Without exception I have been told to get the patient to A&E. So in my experience the NHS could just put an automated message system in. I don't see how a private company would do any better. Who knows, with the money they save, they could do some batshit crazy stuff like hiring doctors, nurse, midwives.

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