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Anti-fraud crackdown on GPs who use FP10s to stock treatment rooms

The Government is cracking down on GPs who misuse prescription forms to stock their treatment rooms as part of its high-profile drive to cut fraud in the health service.

The NHS Counter-Fraud Directorate is taking over the monitoring and flagging up of potential prescription fraud cases, previously the job of the Prescription Pricing Authority.

Officials plan to target GP misuse of the FP10, which GPs' terms of service state must only be used to supply specific named patients.

A counter-fraud service spokesperson said: 'We are aware of the problem. There are plans to look into this.'

He said some practices may be 'wilfully disregarding' the rules and warned an investigation would be launched in any case where it was suspected a practice had used FP10s to stock treatment rooms.

GPC prescribing chair Dr Peter Fellows accused the department of 'nitpicking' but admitted: 'People may be bending the rules slightly.'

Under the regulations, treatment rooms must be stocked from the practice budget and the cost claimed back through expenses.

The crackdown emerged after an investigation at a Buckinghamshire practice that had marked a bundle of FP10s with 'treatment room'. The practice was exonerated because scrupulous record-keeping proved the items were for a specific patient and were merely being stored there.

Berkshire and Buckinghamshire LMC warned practices that bend the rules would at best have to pay the money back and at worst face a fraud investigation.

Dr Iain Barclay, medicolegal adviser at the Medical Protection Society, said there was 'no excuse' for misusing FP10s. 'What happens is that people prescribe, say, a dressing and anything left over is left in the treatment room. Strictly speaking, that's illegal.'

He said the only exceptions were surgeries on PCT premises or in Scotland, where GPs could claim for stock as essential supplies.

LMC medical secretary Dr Chris Tiarks said: 'I think the directorate is going to become increasingly active.'

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