Ghost Patients to Be Examined
The NHS scam team is examining GPs in England amid doubts they are claiming for non-existent patients.
Doctors get £150 a year for every patient on their list, but registers display there were 3.6 million more patients in the system last year than there were people in England.
The inconsistency incited NHS England to employ a company to start chasing up these so-called ghost patients.
The NHS Counter Fraud Expert is now launching its own enquiry.
Doctors’ leaders have always insisted the subject of ghost patients most often has a blameless clarification, such as examples where patients have died or enthused without the knowledge of their GP.
It is assumed the list-cleaning workout, being approved out for NHS England by the business services company Capita has started to see a reduction in the numbers being claimed for.
It has concentrated on patients who have not stayed their doctor for five years.
Efforts have been made to interaction those patients and where they have not been found they have been deregistered from the practice.
But NHS fraud detectives have been carrying out some taster testing of transactions, which the BBC understands has identified some “anomalies” that have raised doubts.
The fraud team will now carry out a full investigation of registers held by NHS England and the NHS Business Services Authority, which administer the payments systems to GP practices, to see if doctors have been fraudulently claiming for patients.
Detectives believe the funding system for registered patients is particularly vulnerable to fraud.
NHS fraud chief Susan Frith said the focus on GPs was just one of a number of priorities for the coming year.
“By stopping fraud, by finding it and undertaking it efficiently where it occurs, and by seeking to recover moneys lost to fraud we can ensure that precious NHS funds are used for their intended purpose of patient care.”
“Some of these will be people that have freshly died, or left the country, others may be homeless or simply unaccounted for in government statistics, and we would be worried at any proposition that any inconsistencies are down to wilful deception by hard-working GPs.”