London list cleaning drive targets 700,000 patients

London GP leaders have criticised a list cleaning drive that they fear could wipe thousands of legitimate patients from practice lists in the capital.

Dr Tony Grewal: list cleaning timing is poor
Dr Tony Grewal: list cleaning timing is poor

Londonwide LMCs has warned that NHS England has sent letters to more than 700,000 patients across London asking them to return a form by post confirming their current address.

GP leaders are urging patients across the capital not to ignore any letters they receive from the NHS, because it fears patients who fail to respond will be wiped from GP lists without their knowledge.

Londonwide LMCs medical director Dr Tony Grewal said: ‘Anyone receiving one of the 700,000 standard letters asking patients to confirm their current address is urged to complete the short form and return it to NHS England.

‘The consequences of not doing so could mean that a patient is removed from their local practice without their or their GPs knowledge, and therefore miss out on important invitations to check their health; order repeat prescriptions, follow up of test results and more.’

Dr Grewal said it was important that GP lists were kept up to date, but warned against ‘mass mailings’ at this time.

‘At this time of the year when GPs and practice staff are working flat out to provide day-to-day essential services, as well as winter flu vaccinations, we would question the need for such a mass mailing,’ Dr Grewal said.

‘Prior to April 2013, practices were able to undertake a rolling programme of keeping their patient lists up to date, however, it is no longer under their control.’

An NHS England spokeswoman said: 'The NHS England Tackling List Inflation 2013 policy requires us to run a list maintenance programme. The policy acknowledges many of the points made in the Once for London agreement launched in 2011 and encourages a rolling programme of A-Z list maintenance over a locally agreed timescale.

'However, it also allows for other cohorts of patients to be considered for list maintenance and for the approach to be agreed locally. The letters sent out last week were one such cohort and we discussed this with the local LMCs in advance. We echo the LMC in encouraging patients to always open letters from the NHS, not only because they may need to respond but because such letters sometimes include invitations to attend important routine screening.'

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