Funding of the NHS in the UK is by way of the government and the population. Just who handles the budgets and keeps things working well, or not, is about to change. The UK coalition government hope to implement anNHS reform bill that will hand the role of budget holder back to the GPS.
This is yet another retrograde step which of course will cost a small fortune. If a future government decides to reverse things it will be all change and all pay once more.
Obviously the current UK government hold the GPs in high esteem. After all if you are about to hand over a huge wad of public money to any management service you need to know that you will get value for money and that those involved are honest.
The following may not mean that GPS on mass are dishonest but it must surely question their competency to be the NHS budget holders.
A current investigation has discovered that in one year alone GPs in England and Wales were overpaid by £6.1 million. The problem has been "ghost patients". These are patients who have died, are failed asylum seekers or who have moved out of the GP area but have never been removed from that doctor's list. Perhaps a slight time delay would be understandable but it was discovered that some of the patients had moved 30 years ago. Currently UK GPs receive £65 a year for each patient whether they see them in that time or not.
The DoH, department of health has admitted that there could be as many as 2.5 million such patients registered. The £6.1 million overpayment relates to a mere 950,000 patients that were discovered during the audit and removed. Whilst the saving this represents is good what about the rest? How come this situation was left to fester for so long? Will the government be reclaiming this money back from GPs? Of course it will not.
The latest DoH estimates mean that the government could be wasting money to the tune of £163 million a year on "ghost patients"
Maybe the fact that GPs have been receiving much more money than they were entitled to has given the government a false perception of how efficient they are. Once the funding for "ghost patients" is removed will the GP practices be as effective?
It still leaves this blogger questioning the sense of handing over the NHS budget to GPs.
More on the GP audit here