How to tackle the rise of ghost patients

According to a recent report by the Mail on Sunday a staggering 3.6 million patients who do not exist are registered with GPs' surgeries, equating to an enormous 5.5 per cent of the UK’s population.

Despite a crackdown launched three years ago on so-called 'ghost patients', the numbers, according to the study, have risen at a rate of almost 6,000 a week. The major contributing factors to the issue are people that remain registered but have died or moved away from the area.

The cost is significant amounting to around £550 million per year, a figure which the newspaper said could support 28,000 new nurses or 10,000 new doctors.

A similar problem exists across other public services. For instance it was revealed two years ago by The National Fraud Initiative, that the number of blue badges still being used by the family or friends of deceased residents in Scotland cost close to £3 million.

A solution is available, and that’s for organisations, including those in the public sector,  to use Halo data.  This deceased data set enables them to identify people in their databases that are deceased. This means surgeries or Capita, the consultancy firm hired to sort out the problem three years ago, could regularly screen surgery patient records against these deceased files and remove those patients they know to have passed away. All data within Halo is fully verified and sourced from exclusive partnerships which include funeral directors, financial institutions and a consumer registration service. Halo does not include any unverified deaths such as mailing returns, assumed deaths due to lack of financial activity, or unverified third party deaths therefore organisations can be confident in matches made. And with around 10,000 new deaths added each week patients that have recently passed away could be removed from the patient list quickly and efficiently. Furthermore, Halo is the only file available to hold full date of death, and in many cases date of birth, thus giving enabling more accurate matching and peace of mind that only legitimate records will be identified. 

With tax payer’s money at stake, and a simple, cost-effective solution to hand, questions really should be asked as to why such practice continues. 

For more information please call Karen Pritchard on 01274538821