THE number of ghost patients registered with GPs has risen by almost two thirds over the past five years, figures suggest.
It has gone up to 5.8million, up from 3.6million in 2018, the NHS Digital stats show.
The number of ghost patients registered with GP’s has risen in the past five years[/caption]
Ghost patients are those who have died or moved to other surgeries but whose records have not been updated.
GPs are paid an average of £164.64 for each patient on their lists.
It means they could have been paid £955million for people they do not treat.
Tom Ryan, researcher at the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “Taxpayers are subsiding service users who may not even exist.”
Royal College of GPs’ Dr Victoria Tzortziou-Brown said: “It’s nothing sinister.
“It’s not a deliberate case of profiting.”
An NHS England spokeswoman said it works with GP surgeries to review and update patient lists “and it is vital that practices do this on a regular basis, so they are as accurate as possible”.
A spokeswoman for the NHS Counter Fraud Authority said: “The NHSCFA had planned to undertake an intelligence assessment on the nature and scale of GP capitation fraud in 2019.
“This was to improve our understanding of the risk posed to the NHS by fraud and error in general practice, primarily as regards GP capitation (this is the fixed amount of money that is paid to GPs for every registered patient).
“It was effectively halted by difficulties in obtaining core data and our priorities shifted from this position with the NHS response to Covid 19.
“We have not yet revisited the issue as we direct our resources to where the intelligence indicates the most appropriate priorities sit.”