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Major GP list-cleansing drive linked to CCG authorisation

GPs will be forced to ‘identify and correct' anomalies in their practice lists by March 2013 as part of a DH bid to wipe 2.5 million ‘ghost patients' from lists, a DH report has confirmed.

The NHS Operating Framework 2012/13, published today, reveals that GP practices will be tasked with flushing out ghost patients before clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) become authorised as statutory bodies in 2013.

The announcement of a strict deadline for the list cleansing drive comes days after Pulse revealed the DH was stepping up its efforts to clean 2.5m ghost patients from lists before CCGs are authorised.

The DH is under pressure to clean up patient lists before April 2013, when CCGs will be set budgets based on their registered patient list populations rather than the current system of PCT funding being dictated by national population estimates. With today's announcement that the DH is to provide CCGs with a management allowance of £25 per head, a gulf of 2.5m extra patients could see CCGs allocated an extra £62.5m in management budgets alone.

The NHS Operating Framework states: ‘GP practices to undertake a full review of practice registered patient lists, ensuring patient anomalies are identified and corrected by March 2013.'

The DH's latest estimate is that GP lists held 2.5m more patients than population estimates. On Wednesday Pulse revealed details a major list cleansing clampdown to close the gap, that could see an average of 330 patients removed per practice at a cost of just under £30,000 to the average GMS practice.

The DH plans to launch a ‘diagnostic exercise' to flush out PCTs that ‘have still to carry out meaningful action' on list-cleansing and hand the NHS Commissioning Board direct responsibility for ‘improving' list cleansing and link list accuracy to CCG authorisation.