This is mainly because patients' names sometimes remain on doctors' lists after they have moved away from the area. The Inner London Executive Council is supplementing the normal checks by special action, including writing to verify the registration particulars of all patients who have been on the registers for more than six months, except where these particulars have been recently confirmed in some other way. Something like three million letters will be needed, so this is a lengthy task.
Is this not a quite crazy and indefensible state of affairs? How many thousands of pounds have been poured into the pockets of doctors at the taxpayers' expense in respect of this vast number of ghost patients?
The problem of keeping pace with patients who move from one practice to another without notifying the executive council has been with us ever since the beginning of the National Health Service. I hope that the current discussions between the BMA and my Department, and the check to which I have referred, will bring about some improvement.