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GPs under fire over patient removal

The Healthcare Commission has criticised GPs for continuing to ignore procedure when removing patients from their lists, writes Helen Crump.

A wide-ranging analysis by the commission said patient complaint about unfair removal was a 'recurring theme', despite 'clear guidance' on the circumstances in which removal was appropriate.

The most common complaint against GPs concerned failure or delay in diagnosis or delayed referral, which is also the most common cause of

patient litigation.

The commission's report examined all patient complaints it had received in its first two years from mid 2004 to mid 2006. It said patients removed from lists had often not been warned about behaviour that would lead to it or not been given a reason for removal. In some cases family members had been removed.

The report said that, where violence was cited as a reason, 'the police were not contacted appropriately, or when they were, this was not recorded'.

The commission sought apologies from GPs in some

cases of unfair removal and requested that some patients be reinstated. It said it would 'closely monitor' GPs it believed unfairly targeted a patient.

Dr Stewart Drage, GPC

negotiator, said: 'Sometimes, quite simply, patients don't want to hear the reasons. Other times, it's quite difficult to communicate when feeling under threat,' he said.

Dr Ranjit Gill, a GP in Stockport, said: 'The numbers of removals are tiny and the process is fairly well implemented.'

But the Medical Defence Union said it had about one case a week where a patient complained about being removed from a practice list and advised GPs that it should only be a last resort.

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