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22-02-2012 | Article

GP list cleanse ‘saves £6 million’


Audit Commission – National Duplicate Registration Initiative

The Audit Commission has removed over 95,000 'ghost patients' from GP lists in England and Wales, after reviewing records for 2009-2010.

Based on the £64.59 allocated to practices per patient, the deleted records amounted to a saving of £6.1 million in 1 year for the NHS, the Commission said.

The National Duplication Registration Initiative (NDRI) identified more than 30,000 dead patients who were still on practice lists - including 157 who had died before 1980.

Nearly 30,000 patients were registered with more than one practice after moving house, while 20,000 patients were removed from lists because they were no longer living at the address given, and nearly 10,000 were failed asylum seekers who had left the country.

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." But he added: "It is disappointing that some areas did not rigorously follow-up the information provided by NDRI, which would have resulted in more savings."

Chair of the BMA GPs Committee Dr Laurence Buckman said it was important for lists to be accurate and for ghost patients to be routinely picked up by primary care organisations (PCOs) and removed. But he voiced concern over reports of over-zealous list cleaning initiatives in some areas, "where patients still validly registered with a practice have been removed against theirs and their GP's wishes, often without their knowledge".

"Often these are vulnerable patients - either elderly or non-English speakers," Dr Buckman said. "It is important for PCOs and practices to work together to make sure that ghost patients are correctly identified and genuine patients are not disadvantaged."

GP News is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2012

By Caroline Price