Nurses concerned about move to remove ‘ghost patients’ from GP registers

Patients face being axed if they haven’t visited GP for five years and don’t respond to two letters

Nursing leaders have criticised plans to axe patients from GP lists in England if they have not visited their surgery for five years.

Patients who have not visited their GPs in five years may be struck off. Picture: Alamy

The RCN and the Patients Association are concerned that the move could put vulnerable patients at risk.

NHS England, which has employed Capita to carry out the list cleansing, says two letters will be sent to patients.

If they do not reply within six months to say they still wish to be registered, they will be removed from the practice list.

Up to date

GPs are paid an average of £136 for each patient on their list, and NHS England has launched the programme to save money and ensure records are up to date.

RCN head of nursing JP Nolan said that practice nurses are concerned about the risks to patient safety.

‘There are many reasons why people may not be able to respond to the letters, including people who are vulnerable, have learning disabilities or have visual impairments,’ he said.

'There is a risk that the most vulnerable will be impacted adversely by this.’

Financially driven

He said that the move is financially driven, and the cost attached to patients who are registered but not receiving care should be removed.

Patients Association chief executive Katherine Murphy said: ‘Ultimately people will wrongly be taken off the list and may not realise it until it is too late and they urgently need to see their GP.’

An NHS England spokesperson said: ‘The National Audit Office and Commons public accounts committee have all drawn attention to the need to ensure accurate patient lists, and for proper stewardship of public funds.’

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