These accusations of fraud in primary care seem like a bit of a cop out to me


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By Dr Livingstone
GP blogger

01 Oct 2019

A new NHS England strategy document accusing primary care professionals of defrauding the health service seems to have come out of the blue, says The Pharmacist’s GP blogger Dr Livingston

Well, that’s odd. Only a little while ago, the health secretary was saying that GPs are the bedrock of the NHS. Suddenly, it seems we’re using that bedrock to smash open the health service coffers and help ourselves to an NHS swag bag.

Because, according to NHS England’s recent strategy document, GPs might be responsible for up to £88m per year of fraud via list inflation, false claims, quality payment manipulation and so on.

But you can wipe that holier-than-thou smirk off your face. You pharmacists are guilty, too, apparently. Yes, only the other day the politicians were describing you as respected and highly trained frontline professionals. But the strategy document has turned that on its head, too.

According to the papers, you’re even worse than us GPs. Thanks to fabricated claims, inflated drug costs and excessive handling bills, to name just a few items on the charge sheet, you’re apparently defrauding the NHS of a cool £111m annually.

Hang on, though. The document acknowledges that, ‘there are considerable gaps in intelligence with reference to fraud risks in primary care areas’, which is perhaps why the figures are described as, ‘a realistic probability’. Hmm. So hardly a fair cop, then, though that didn’t stop the media predictably peddling the dodgy doc/pharmacist line.

Look, NHS England. Even if I was so unprofessional and devious to embezzle funds (and, for the avoidance of doubt, I’m not), I couldn’t, for the simple reason that I simply don’t have the time. Just like my pharmacist colleagues, I spend every waking hour trying to prop up the crumbling edifice of primary care.

So, if you want to take a forensic sift through the books, be my guest. You won’t find anything. And at this rate, you quite possibly won’t find me, either.


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