Greedy GPs vaccine ploy

Express Sept 13, 1999

DEVIOUS doctors have been accused of making money by striking off their lists patients who refuse to have their children vaccinated.

GPs receive a bonus if they meet Government targets for immunising youngsters with the controversial measles, mumps and rubella vaccine.

But following the recent scare linking the MMR vaccine to autism and bowel disease, vaccination rates have fallen from the recommended 95 per cent to 87.6 per cent, says the Royal Society of Medicine report. Author Dr Neena Buntwal explained how GPs can cash in. All children between the ages of two months and one year are expected to have their triple vaccine.

"In an average practice list of 1,875, this might be 45 children. A GP can claim 2,000 only if he or she can show that 90 per cent of the children on the list have had their injection. "If only 35 have been vaccinated then only 700 can be claimed. If however, the GP removes eight of the non-vaccinated children from the list, without vaccinating any more, then the target percentage is met."

It is estimated that between 1994 and1991, the number of patients being struck off by a GP has trebled. Dr Buntwal said women refusing a smear test and patients needing expensive medicines may also find themselves kicked off a GPs list. This is particularly worrying for psychiatric patients needing drugs costing 300-500 a month claim Dr Bunrwal and fellow psychiatrists at the Bethlehem Royal and Royal Free hospitals in London.

The British Medical Association said removing patients for financial gain was unacceptable behaviour.

Dr John Chisholm, chair of the General Practice committee, said: "The GPC would not condone removing patients from lists in order to meet target payments. However, he said the BMA wants Health Secretary Frank Dobson to prevent GPs being penalised when patients ignore their advice over vaccination.

[Vaccination]  [Vaccine ploys]