Are Dorset GP's getting money for patients that don't exist?

Are Dorset GP's getting money for patients that don't exist?

Published by Maria Greenwood at 10:26am 25th June 2019.

Probe launched into 'ghost patients.'

GP surgeries in Dorset could be receiving payments for tens of thousands of patients who may not exist.

The NHS Counter Fraud Authority's launched a national probe into so-called ghost patients, where practices still get funding even though they may have left the area or died.

The latest Office for National Statistics data shows an estimated 770,700 people live in the NHS Dorset CCG area, but around 805,200 patients were registered with GP surgeries at the start of June.

This means around 34,500 ( 4%) could be ghost patients.

Doctor medical

The ONS estimate was published in 2017, so some of the disparity could be down to changes in the local population.

But it is extremely unlikely that this accounts for all the excess patients, as the average yearly population growth for the area was just 0.6% between 2012 and 2017.

The NHS paid an average of £ 159.92 per registered patient in the 2017-18 financial year.

Based on this figure, GP surgeries in Dorset could currently be receiving around £5.5 million for ghost patients each year.

A spokesperson for the organisation said previous analysis had identified a discrepancy between the number of people registered at GP surgeries and the population.

They added: "Our priority this year will be to assess whether these discrepancies remain, and if they do, conduct further analysis to establish their nature and whether part of this is due to fraudulent activity or not."