‘Ghost list’ purge: NHS removing people from surgery registers

‘Ghost list’ purge: NHS removing people from surgery registers if they have not seen a doctor for six months

By Mail On Sunday Reporter

Thousands of patients face being removed from GP practices if they have not seen their doctor for six months.

After this time, if they fail to respond to two warning letters, their names will be removed from the surgery register.

NHS managers say they want to ensure lists are accurate and up to date.

But GPs claim many patients will be struck off without reason and then forced to re-register when they need to see a doctor.

The scheme is being tested in London but could be rolled out elsewhere if judged a success.

Doctors have been accused of boosting their incomes by keeping ‘ghost patients’ – people who have died or moved – on their books.

GPs receive an annual payment of up to £100 for each person registered, regardless of whether they have had any treatment.

GPs are under no obligation to check their lists for ghost patients.

But a campaign by seven NHS trusts in London three years ago resulted in 58,000 names being removed, saving £3.2 million.

Dr Laurence Buckman, chairman of the BMA’s General Practitioners Committee, said:
‘It is in doctors’ interests to make sure their lists are accurate.

 ‘But this is a random removal of names. It will do nothing to improve patient care.’


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