Fraudsters costing the NHS £38 million per year in lost GP time

  • Nearly 90% of doctors see at least one patient every month who they suspect is exaggerating or inventing an injury to claim compensation
  • This waste of resource could pay for 1,600 nurses
  • Average GP spends two working days per year (17 hours) dealing with patients they suspect are exaggerating or inventing an injury to claim compensation
  • 41% of GPs have already been contacted in 2016 by a law firm or accident company wanting medical reports about a patient

This NHS is wasting £38 millioni a year dealing with personal injury fraudsters, according to figures compiled from research amongst doctors.

The study, by esure car insurance, highlights the growing strain being placed on the NHS by unscrupulous fraudsters claiming for whiplash. Among the GPs surveyed, a fifth see between four to eight suspicious cases every month, with each case taking up to 38 minutes on average. This waste of resource could pay for 1,600ii nurses.

The doctors questioned not only have to deal with fake claims, but also regularly deal with calls from personal injury lawyers and claim management companies. For each suspicious patient they see, they will be followed up by calls requesting medical reports or further information to help the patient’s suspicious claim – eating up precious GP time in the midst of long working hours.

And the number of these calls has been steadily rising for the last five years, with 41% of doctors stating they’ve already been contacted in 2016 – a figure which rises to 57% for doctors based in Scotland.

The introduction of MedCo in April last year, to help tackle fraud and ensure the independence of the medical expert, has not reduced the strain on family GPs. Just 3% of GPs reported a decrease in these sorts of visits since April. One in four GPs (25%) say they have seen the same patient visit on separate occasions for different invented or exaggerated injuries.

Family doctors in Wales and Northern Ireland say they waste the most time – seeing more ‘suspicious patients’ than the average and as a result spend 22 hoursiii every year handling these cases.

Nearly three quarters of GPs (73%) agree that paying accident victims’ medical bills rather than awarding compensation with minor injuries should help to reduce the number of fraudsters. But with doctors, on average, having to see around two patients with suspicious injuries every month on top of taking calls from claims management companies, it’s unsurprising that 70% complain they are already busy enough dealing with genuine patients.

Between 2005 and 2013, road traffic accidents fell by 30% in the UK, but over the same period whiplash and soft tissue claims rose by 62%iv. Data from esure shows claims for whiplash are now so common that in car accidents involving two vehicles where there is little or no car damage, one in 10 (10%) will still attempt to make a personal injury claim for whiplash.

Stuart Vann, CEO at esure said: “GPs are stretched enough as it is and their time wasted seeing suspicious injuries distracts them from seeing genuine patients, but even more time is wasted by law firms and claims companies pestering them for paperwork.

“The UK government has announced it will ban compensation payouts for whiplash claims, which we believe is a positive step and fully support its introduction scheduled for next year. GPs and the NHS are already under immense strain and anything that can be done to help reduce the pressure on them is a good thing.”

ENDS

For more information:

Suzie Barrett or Matt McKenna at Third City on 0203 657 9773 or esure@thirdcity.co.uk
Emma Banks, emma.banks@esure.com, 01737 235107 / 07894 158605

Notes to editors:

Research was conducted by PCP among 300 GPs in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Research was carried out from the 1 February to 9 February 2016.

esure is an efficient personal lines insurance business. Founded in 2000 by Chairman, Peter Wood, Britain’s foremost insurance entrepreneur, the company is a leading provider of car and home insurance.

iSource: According to the latest figures from the British Medical Association (published in July 2014) there were 43,605 sessional GPs practicing across the UK. The cost to the NHS in wasted GP hours every year is £861.66. £861.66 x 43,605 = £37,572,684. NB – this is almost certainly an underestimate as the GP numbers does not include Locum GPs (there is no official figure for the number of Locum GPs operating available but is expected to be in the range of 15,000-17,000).

iiSource: A Registered Nurse (RN) earns an average salary of £23,038 per year. £23,038 x 1,649 nurses = £38m. http://www.payscale.com/research/UK/Job=Registered_Nurse_(RN)/Salary

iiiSource: GPs in Wales and Northern Ireland spend 22 hours per year dealing with suspicious injuries from patients and then dealing with calls and paperwork for claims management companies.

ivSource: ABI