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Watch your own expenses or you could be struck off, GPs warned

By Gareth Iacobucci

GPs have been warned they face being hauled before the GMC or even being struck off if they break the rules on expenses claims.

The Medical and Dental Defence Union of Scotland (MDDUS) has warned of cases where GPs have faced sanctions over ‘inappropriate or ill-informed' fee claims, which have had to be repaid.

It said QOF payments and claims for temporary residents were the two main potential pitfalls, with one GP erased from the Register in January 2009 for falsifying QOF figures.

The defence union reported that it had heard of a tiny minority of practice principals conspiring to "massage" QOF points.

Other less serious cases include GPs who failed to look closely enough at whether new patients should be registered, claiming for them as "temporary". They repaid the often tiny fees, but were still referred to the GMC and given warnings.

It said speculative claims could be picked up by the NHS Counter Fraud Service, random QOF reviews or Payment Verification Visits.

Dr George Fernie, head of the medical division of the UK-wide MDDUS, said: ‘While most GPs are scrupulously honest, in the current economic circumstances, some may be tempted to boost income with claims that surf the line between the creative and the fraudulent.'

‘We strongly urge them to resist. The GMC has firm views – and rightly so – on GP probity.'

‘If in doubt, ask yourself: would my actions withstand public scrutiny?'

The warning comes after scores of MPs – including Andrew Lansley and Ben Bradshaw from the health sector, were caught up in the on-going row over Commons' expenses.

Watch your expenses claims or you could be struck off, the MDDUS is warning

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