MPs call for immediate GP list cleaning drive

NHS England must take immediate action to clean up GP patient lists, an influential House of Commons committee has said.

Parliament: accounts committee MPs back list cleaning (Photo: Ian Bottle)
Parliament: accounts committee MPs back list cleaning (Photo: Ian Bottle)

The public accounts committee said inaccurate data on practice populations was contributing to local health funding inequalities.

The committee’s recommendations came in response to an earlier report by the National Audit Office.

The MPs said that around two-fifths of CCGs and three-quarters of local authorities are receiving more than 5% above or below their target funding allocation.

Target funding

Committee chairwoman Margaret Hodge MP said: ‘Target funding allocations may be unreliable in some areas because they are based on estimates of population size taken from GP registration numbers.

‘GP registration numbers tend to be inflated as people may remain on lists after they have moved out of an area. At the same time, GP lists do not include unregistered patients which may disadvantage areas with high levels of inward migration.’

The committee called on NHS England to take immediate action to ensure that all area teams are complying with guidance on list validation and take forward longer-term plans for greater assurance over the data.

Validating GP lists

The report said NHS England plans to require all area teams to implement the detailed guidelines on validating GP lists by the end of 2014/15.

The commissioning body also told MPs its new primary care back office service would, from this spring, make list validation more consistent.

The report also recommended NHS England improve the formula used to determine primary care’s share of overall local commissioning funds.

Ms Hodge said: ‘It is deeply concerning that the proportion of total funding devoted to primary care has fallen, even though primary care is vital for tackling health inequalities. Over the last decade, the proportion of total spending committed to primary care fell from 29% to 23% as a consequence of the NHS prioritising hospital initiatives such as reducing waiting times.

‘The DH and NHS England should set out the rationale for decisions about how funding is split between different funding streams, including assessing the implications of any changes in the distribution of funding.’

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