New of the World 1/12/02 (December 1, 2002)

Kids struck off to meet targets

DOCTORS are being offered cash by the government to give children the
controversial MMR jab. 

And some GPs are so desperate to get the money, they are 'striking off'
youngsters who don't have the injection.

The combined MMR vaccine for Measles, Mumps and Rubella has been linked to
autism and bowel conditions and the News of the World is campaigning for
the government to offer parents single jabs for each disease.

However the Department of Health has set doctors a target which means they
can claim 2,730 if they immunise 90 per cent of their patients aged two
and under with the MMR jab.

The medics get the money if the youngsters also have injections to protect
them against other diseases.

But while parents have no objections to vaccinating their kids against
illnesses such as whooping cough, polio and diphtheria, thousands are
worried that the MMR jab could cause harm and are refusing to let the GPs
give it to their kids.

So, in order to get the bonus, some doctors are 'cooking the books'.

They de-register those youngsters on their lists who don't have the
injection and re-classify them as 'temporary residents' instead.

A temporary resident can get the same care from their GP as a permanent
resident, but may have to pay for their treatment.

Magda Taylor, from The Informed Parents Charity, is adamant that doctors
are fixing the figures to get the cash. She said: "Doctors seem to be
cooking the books. They may tell the government they've reached the 90 per
cent target, but in reality that figure is much less.

"If they exclude patients who are reluctant to have the vaccination from
their registers, the figures aren't true."

Mum Karen Kennedy-Milne, of Kingston, Surrey, was furious when she got a
letter from her doctor saying her toddler Abigail would be treated as a
'temporary resident' because she hadn't had the MMR jab.

She said: "My choice for my children has been compromised by doctors trying
to cash in on my child's health."


Abigail's doctor refused to comment when we contacted her at the Canbury
Medical Centre, but the tot was reinstated as a full member of the surgery
after we called.

John Stark, communications director of the Kingston Primary Care Trust,
told the News of the World: "The trust tried to resolve the issue between
the Canbury Medical Centre and the Kennedy-Milnes by contacting the family
to offer assistance. The issue has now been resolved."

But he admitted the trust did not have the power to stop GPs de-registering
patients for monetary gain.

He said: "The trust's policy is that children should not be removed from GP
lists to influence target payments. But GPs are self-employed and they
don't have to follow our guidelines."