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Inner-city GPs fear they will lose out over 'ghosts'

Fears are growing among

inner-city GPs that adjustments to their lists for 'ghost' patients would mean they lose out under the new contract.

Fees and allowances are currently scaled back by 6 per cent nationally to take account of list inflation, but in future they would be altered according to the census figure for the local area.

Some GPs could see their list trimmed by as much as 30 per cent because census figures are well below the actual population.

Westminster city council is challenging its 2001 census figure which showed the number of people living in the area was 26 per cent lower than its estimate.

Kensington and Chelsea has a 17 per cent gap, with Cambridge (13 per cent), Manchester (11 per cent) and Bristol (6 per cent) also badly hit.

A £53 million fund would be set aside to ease the problem in London, but GPs in other cities would get no such help.

Dr Gillian Braunold, a north London GP and GPC member, said GPs outside the capital would have no incentive to clean up their list. 'You might as well inflate your list if you know it's then going to be knocked down,' she said.

Fellow GPC member Dr Fay Wilson, a GP in Birmingham, said: 'The difficulty in London is the £53 million is not going to where the money is needed. Everybody will get a bit.

'The difficulty for the rest of us is there's not going to be a ''bit'' at all.'

The figure for GPs' actual list size would be multiplied by the Carr-Hill formula to get a notional list on which their global sum would be based.

GPC negotiator Dr Laurence Buckman admitted the gap could be as much as 30 per cent for some GPs. But he said transitional payments would cover any shortfall.

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