Thousands Of Patients Wrongly Deleted From GP Books

Up To 35,000 Patients Have Been Wrongly Struck Off GP Registers


Dave Grimshaw, Press Officer | 0114 274 4397
An investigation into NHS practices has revealed up to 35,000 patients have been wrongly struck off GP registers around the country over the past year, leading to concerns regarding the health and safety of such individuals.

Health magazine Pulse obtained figures from the NHS relating to this matter under the Freedom of Information Act, finding that approximately 12,000 patients have had to be reinstated to the books of GP surgeries after they were mistakenly deleted.

The patients who were struck off and later re-added to registers were only brought back onto the books due to a complaint from either them or their doctor.

The investigation focused purely on a scheme introduced in May last year to reduce the number of 'ghost patients' on GP registers to save the NHS money. Such patients include those aged over 100, as well as children.

A spokesman from NHS England commented: "NHS England takes all possible steps it can to contact patients and minimise the number who need to re-register, but there will always be some circumstances where patients do not respond and at that point we have to assume that they have moved away from the address and are therefore not in reality receiving services from that GP."

While some individuals may be in relatively good health and not need to visit their doctor regularly, there are concerns that the health of those with medical conditions could be put at serious risk due to this registration error.

The errors could mean patients are not receiving notifications for scans or appointments and people may not know they need check-ups that could result in a life-threatening illness being detected and follow-up treatments may not be administered, leaving patients at significant risk.

In addition, the mistakes have led to angry scenes in waiting rooms, potentially causing distress for other patients.

Regional variations were seen within the results, with re-registration rates of 40 per cent in Thames Valley, 32 per cent in Birmingham and 14 per cent throughout Leicester and Lincolnshire.

Expert Opinion
Patient care should always be a top priority and that means ensuring people have access to the treatment they need at all times. The fact that so many patients were deleted from GP registers is troubling as these individuals may have been unable to get medical care from their local doctors when it was needed, which may have resulted in people being forced to attend hospitals for treatment.

"Thankfully action has been taken to reinstate many of these people to the registers of their local surgery, but it is vital lessons are learnt from this incident and any future maintenance of records is done with the health and safety of patients in mind."
Julie Lewis, Partner