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List cleaning and GP profits

I visited a large practice recently. I was going to be there for most of the day and so I parked in the adjoining pay and display car park.

Like many other car parks, you can pay for the parking online, and so I dutifully paid via my iPad and received confirmation by email. When I left some five hours later, a penalty notice was stuck to my windscreen - failure to display a ticket - but of course no ticket was issued. I appealed in accordance with the instructions on the back of the ticket, and in due course they wrote to me letting me know that they waived the penalty on this occasion.

On this occasion? Hang on a minute, I have not done anything wrong. The suggestion is that they are letting me off - but off what? Who are these people? I had paid, they said thanks, some idiot gives me a ticket I don't deserve, and then someone else let's me off a penalty for an offense I did not commit.

It reminded me of some conclusions I drew from an analysis of GPs profits recently. Unsurprisingly, the profits were falling, but my attention was drawn to the fact that list sizes across our clients are falling. I believe this is the result of list cleaning, the process of writing to patients asking them to confirm they exist, and the failure to reply leads to removal from the GPs list.

Well, hang on - again. In many cases the patient does exist. So the GP is treating a patient, but not being paid because someone else has conducted a flawed exercise and penalised the GP. Perhaps when they reinstate the patient they should say they will pay - on this occasion.

You may have noticed this lacks reciprocity. HMRC do not write to all taxpayers each year and ask them to confirm their existence before issuing a tax demand. Lenders don't write to their mortgage customers and check they exist before asking for the mortgage repayments.

The process of list cleaning is pernicious and unfair. It is widely known that live patients are removed, so why is it allowed to continue? Why is there not more of a fuss about this?

I have told XXX District Council that they need to unreservedly apologise for suggesting I had not paid for my parking, and while I pursued my apology I would be charging £150 per hour for my time (yes I am a pompous ass). I think GPs should similarly charge for the time they have to waste resurrecting live patients. It might make someone think.

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