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Thousands of patients wrongly removed from GP lists

‘Heavy-handed’ list-cleansing is to blame

Jo Carlowe

Monday, 11 February 2013

Heavy-handed list-cleansing by GP practices has led to thousands of patients being wrongly removed from lists.

An investigation by the medical magazine Pulse reveals that ‘tens of thousands of suspected ghost patients’ have been wrongly removed from practice lists and have had to re-register.

According to the report, data from 53 PCTs released under the Freedom of Information Act has revealed that 2,611,958 patients have been reviewed so far. Across the 24 PCTs able to give full data, 9.8% of the 41,119 patients removed from practice lists turned out to be genuine patients and were forced to re-register in 2011/12.

Extrapolating from these figures, this could mean that nationwide some 25,000 patients have been removed from GP lists.

The government has called on the removal of so-called ‘ghost patients’ as part of a drive to ensure that practices are not over paid.

But GP leaders have said the ‘heavy-handed’ approach adopted by some PCTs has led to genuine patients being crossed off the list damaging doctor-patient relationships and affecting patient care.

Guidance on list cleansing sent to PCTS last year urged NHS managers to keep GP lists accurate and up-to-date. Last year there were three million more patients on GP lists than exists in the whole population of England.

The NHS Commissioning Board is currently developing a ‘single model’ for list validation for when they take over responsibility for list cleansing in April.

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