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Saturday 24th August 2019

'Ghost' patients making GPs millions

23rd February 2012

A government spending watchdog has discovered that the NHS is overpaying millions of pounds to GPs for “ghost” patients.


The Audit Commission found that there were more than 95,000 patients who needed removing from GP lists in England and Wales in a single year because they had moved practice, died or left the country.

The review, called the National Duplicate Registration Initiative (NDRI), said the inaccuracies in GP lists means that some practices receive more funding than they are entitled to while others are missing out on NHS cash.

Some 20,000 patients were removed from lists after investigators found high numbers of people registered at the same house.

With GP practices paid about £65 for each patient on their list regardless of how often they make an appointment or treatments received, the removal of 95,000 ghost patients would save the NHS more than £6m every year.

The Department of Health has admitted that while there are currently 55 million patients registered with GPs, some 2.5 million live overseas.

Katherine Murphy, chief executive of the Patients Association, said: “At a time when the NHS is being asked to make huge savings the Government needs to provide answers as to how money was wasted in this way.”

Health minister Lord Howe said it was important to identify “ghost patients” to ensure all practices were fairly funded.

“The NHS needs to make the best use of the funds it has available and avoid giving GPs extra income for patients who have moved away or died,” he said.


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