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GPs overpaid millions for 'ghost patients'

GPs overpaid millions for 'ghost patients'

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GPs have been overpaid £6.1m in this year alone for thousands of 'ghost' patients. 

The Audit Commission's latest National Duplicate Registration Initiative (NDRI) removed 95,000 duplicate patient records across England and Wales. 

GPs have been overpaid £6.1m in this year alone for thousands of 'ghost' patients. 

The Audit Commission's latest National Duplicate Registration Initiative (NDRI) removed 95,000 duplicate patient records across England and Wales. 

Patient registration is worth on average £64.59 to a GP. 

Andy McKeon, Managing Director of Health at the Audit Commission, criticised some GPs for not "rigorously following-up" the potential duplicate records spotted by the NDRI, which he claims would have resulted in yet more savings. 

"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," he said. 

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

Patient record duplicates can occur when a patient has moved house, has died, or been removed from the country.

Not every match will necessarily result in a removal, as local areas will be asked to carry out further checks to confirm the match is the result of a duplication or other issue. 

The Audit Commission said it is "impossible" to estimate how long such 'ghost' patients would have remained on GP lists without the NDRI. 

In "extreme" cases, however, it could take many years. 

The NDRI 2009/10 review resulted in the removal of 157 patients who had died before 1980. 

Furthermore, one patient who died in 1969 was only removed from a GP list in April 2011.

Should GPs shoulder the blame for the number of 'ghost patients' on their lists? Your comments (terms and conditions apply):

"I have no objection to removing ghosts but the capitation system has always allowed for ghosts using the pooling system for gross funding. Using this  plan to 'save ' money is dishonest unless capitation fees are raised. This would be fair and open. I would like to know if the number of ghost patients is higher than was. If so you could blame GPs. if not then this is an essentially dishonest attempt to strip money out of GMS global funding" – Patrick Ryan, Hants

 

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