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Debt collectors targeting GP practices for patient information

By Charlotte Barnes

Bogus callers posing as healthcare professionals are attempting to persuade practices to hand over patients' addresses and other personal information, the BMA is warning.

Bogus callers have contacted a number of GP surgeries attempting to trick receptionists into disclosing patients' details. Further investigation by the practices revealed the calls originated from a debt collection company.

After LMC leaders raised the alarm, the BMA has issued a nationwide alert warning practices to be vigilant.

A BMA spokesperson said: ‘The GPC has been informed that debt collectors have been contacting practices pretending to be healthcare professionals, in order to get personally identifiable information about patients. If your practice has been affected by this please let the LMC know.'

Dr Tony Grewal, medical director of Londonwide LMC and a GP in Hillingdon, west London, said: ‘All telephone requests for patient-identifiable information data must be treated with utmost suspicion.'

‘Any such requests should be responded to with a polite but firm request for the name of the individual, the name of the organisation, the reason for the request and a promise to call back. The credibility of the organisation should then be checked, call returned, and the person requesting the information should be asked to obtain and send written patient consent or explain both the reason for and the statutory and regulatory justification for a request made by telephone.'

‘If in doubt, never give patient information by phone and either check with your LMC or PCT.'

BMA issues alert over bogus callers