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GPs 'overpaid millions for ghost patients'

GPs have been over-paid millions of pounds for patients who have moved practice, died or been forced to leave the country, according to a new report.

A one-year review by the Audit Commission identified more than 95,000 patients who needed removing from GP lists in England and Wales.

They included almost 30,000 patients who had moved to another practice (31% of the total), more than 32,000 who had died years before (34%) and almost 10,000 failed asylum seekers (10%).

Nearly 20,000 patients (21%) were also removed from lists after investigators found high numbers of people registered at the same property.

While it would not be unusual for 50 patients to be registered at a nursing home, 20 patients registered in one house would suggest inaccurate GP lists, they said.

Of those patients who had died but were still on GP lists at the time of the review in 2009/10, 157 died before 1980.

They included one patient whose GP continued to be paid for their care for around 40 years despite the fact they died in 1969.

A further 335 patients had been on lists for up to 30 years despite dying between 1980 and 1990, while another 429 had died between 1990 and 2000.

Inaccurate GP lists can mean some practices receive more than their fair share of funding, while others miss out.

When patients move to another practice, failing to remove them from an existing list can also mean two GPs being paid for one patient’s care.

GP practices are paid £64.59 for each patient on their list. Today’s report said the removal of more than 95,000 “ghost patients” meant the NHS had been able to save more than £6.1 million in one year.

Following the review - known as the National Duplicate Registration Initiative (NDRI) exercise - the medical records of almost 30,000 patients were transferred from patients’ former GP to their current one.

It is the job of primary care trusts (PCTs) in England and local health boards in Wales to keep an up-to-date list of patients.

Overall, the 95,000 patients represent around 0.16% of the population.

Andy McKeon, managing director of health at the Audit Commission, said: “The NHS and GPs generally manage patient lists well - at any one time there are some 58 million records and many movements on and off lists.

“However, the NDRI, and active follow-up locally of duplicates and other anomalies, has resulted in £6.1 million annual savings.

“It is disappointing that some areas did not rigorously follow-up the information provided by NDRI, which would have resulted in more savings.”

Readers' comments (7)

  • tinkerbell

    isn't this called 'fraud?' not to put too fine a point on it. It just keeps getting worse and worse if this has been done deliberately.

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  • Quite agree with the above comment. If it was the inland revenue surely they would have to be paying back all overpayments even it it was only backdated 6/7 years.

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  • Quite right Tink. Imagine how bad it's all going to become when the GPs have all the power. The GP's who have been paid since 1969 for a dead person is definately fishy. I was removed from the list at my GP, after being on it since a small lad, because I hadn't been in for two years so this beggars belief!

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  • why do GPs complain if you don't visit. surely if you are healthy you don't go just for the pleasure of seeing them.

    I still haven't met my new GP who has been there for eight years and I only took on the previous one as he was looking after my mother and agreed to put me on his list and I only chose his practice as it is the only one within walking distance and bus services don't go to the other practices. I avoided going to see him though as I was not impressed with his work.

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  • tinkerbell

    my husband once went to the GP and the GP said

    'you haven't been here for years'

    my husband replied

    'no, i've not been well'.

    We bought some flowers and the assistant handed them to him he said 'thanks a bunch'

    Think this is the liverpool sense of humour, i just pretend i'm not with him.

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  • this is embarassing - at a time when the NHS and the entire country is struggling financially - these GPs are ripping the tax payer off and you cannot even blame the Tories for it!

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  • tinkerbell

    especially when i had to inform the tax man that i had £6 in an undeclared interest account, guess we're just low hanging fruit. I think i will have to spend that £6 as the accountant charged me £360 to do the tax return.

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