Guidance

Ghost Patients

There are a number of reasons why the NHS tries to contact patients.  Communications include various screening and recall programmes. In cases where a patient is not known at the current address mail is returned undelivered via the Dead Letter office of the Royal Mail.
In this circumstance the patient may be removed from their GP practice’s list under the NHS FP69 regulation, sometimes known as “list cleansing” of “ghost patients”.
The FP69 flag will be removed if the Practice:

  • Submits a ‘GP links’ amendment for a change of address or GP. In this case the FP69 flag is electronically removed.
  • Advises PCSE of patients who have confirmed residency at the registered address. In this case the FP69 flag is manually removed.
  • Returns the list of patients having had FP69 flags set within the advised timescale, which PCSE sent to the practice for comment.

Practices should note that FP69 flags will not be cancelled on the Exeter system by a practice removing the FP69 flag from a patient’s record under high security or by not accepting the FP69 via the GP links. This action will only ensure the FP69 is not shown on the Practice system and flagged patients will still be deducted from the Exeter system, after six months.

The patient will be removed from the practice’s list after six months, unless an address update is received in the meantime, or the practice confirms that it has treated the patient at the original address since the FP69 action was set.

Some practices believe that as long as they don’t accept an FP69 flag, the patient will remain on their list and they will continue to receive payment for that patient. This is not the case. When the six months have elapsed, the patient is removed from the database. If the patient is not on the database, no payment will be made to the practice, even if they have not processed the FP69.

The medical record must be retained until actual removal at the end of the six month period, as the practice remains responsible for the patient’s medical care during that time. When six months has elapsed PCSE will transmit a removal action to the practice via GP Links and ask for the medical record to be returned.

Details about FP69 and datat qulaity checks can be found on the PCSE website.

If you wish to request the removal of a patient from your list, you should do this via PCSE. For more details go to:  https://pcse.england.nhs.uk/help/patient-registrations/patient-removals/?keyword=What+should+I+do+if+there+is+an+FP69+flag+on+our+system%3f

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Last Reviewed Date
08/12/2023