Practices are facing investigations over allegations that millions of patients on their lists are non-existent, it was revealed today.
The investigation is set to increase tension between GP leaders and the private provider of services, Capita, which has been commissioned to conduct the investigation.
The NHS Counter Fraud Authority claims there are 3.6 million more people registered on GP lists than live in England, the BBC reports. The exercise partly involves list-cleaning, leading to practices losing income where patients are found to have registered in two places or to have died.
The BBC reports that investigators say they have found some “anomalies”, which may lead to fraud investigations. There may be as much as £88 million involved, it says.
Capita manages primary care support services and has been under fire over delays in passing on correspondence and arranging payments to practices. The fraud authority has designated the project a “priority” for the current year.
British Medical Association GP committee chair Dr Richard Vautrey said: “Some of these will be people that have recently died, or left the country, others may be homeless or simply unaccounted for in government statistics. We would be concerned at any suggestion that any discrepancies are down to wilful deception by hard-working GPs.”
The counter fraud authority interim chief executive Susan Frith said: “By preventing fraud, by identifying it and tackling it effectively 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.”