GP ’ghost patients’ to be investigated by NHS fraud squad



Stethoscope Image copyright TEK IMAGE/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

The NHS fraud squad is investigating GPs in England amid suspicions they are claiming for non-existent patients.

Doctors get £150 a year for each patient on their list, but records show there were 3.6 million more patients in the system last year than there were people in England.

The discrepancy prompted NHS England to employ a company to start chasing up these so-called ghost patients.

The NHS Counter Fraud Authority is now launching its own investigation.

Doctors' leaders have always insisted the issue of ghost patients most often has an innocent explanation, such as instances where patients have died or moved without the knowledge of their GP.

It is understood the list-cleaning exercise, being carried out for NHS England by the business services company Capita has started to see a reduction in the numbers being claimed for.

It has focused on patients who have not visited their doctor for five years.

Attempts have been made to contact those patients and where they have not been found they have been deregistered from the practice.

But NHS fraud investigators have been carrying out some sample testing of transactions, which the BBC understands has identified some "anomalies" that have raised suspicions.

The fraud team will now carry out a full analysis of records held by NHS England and the NHS Business Services Authority, which administer the payments systems to GP practices, to see if doctors have been fraudulently claiming for patients.

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Investigators believe the funding system for registered patients is particularly vulnerable to fraud.

The average GP has around 1,700 patients on their list so the payments make up a significant chunk of their income.

The fraud team have estimated that up to £88m may be being incorrectly claimed for - around 1% of the GP budget.

NHS fraud chief Susan Frith said the focus on GPs was just one of a number of priorities for the coming year.

"By preventing fraud, by identifying it and tackling it effectively where it occurs, and by seeking to recover moneys lost to fraud we can ensure that precious NHS funds are used for their intended purpose of patient care."

Dr Richard Vautrey, of the British Medical Association, said it would be wrong to jump to conclusions.

"Some of these will be people that have recently died, or left the country, others may be homeless or simply unaccounted for in government statistics, and we would be concerned at any suggestion that any discrepancies are down to wilful deception by hard-working GPs."

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zyban tabletten kaufen We pay for videos too. NHS England said the move was important to ensure the "proper stewardship of public funds". To date it has been up to local areas to come up with their own ways of keeping lists up to date. And, for context, the One GPs Protest blog argues that: The 2004 GP Contract requires GPs to register all patients in their practice area who wish to register with them The problem is what is cialis xbox that at some point you will. On the other side, the BBC reported last year on patients being wrongly deleted from lists: At least 460,000 names have been removed from GPs lists in the capital in the past five years, a Freedom of Information (FOI). Problem is a 'scandalous waste of taxpayer's money'. Treatment for...

The NHS have to cover the costs of these phantom patients because doctors are given.25 cialis for women price for each person registered to their practice. "Alongside other improvements we are making, we are working closely NHS England who are consulting on proposed changes and guidance that will enable us to start targeted data quality checks on GP lists as part of our services. The comments on that article from GPs highlighting inconsistent guidance and the effects of cleaning lists are worth reading. For example: the accuracy of lists are a story in themselves, as doctors still reportedly receive up to 100 for every person registered with them. Are they experiencing problems? NHS England said new rules would be brought in next month and see patients removed from GP lists unless they responded to warning letters.