An average patient will see a GP around seven times a year, according to the Royal College of GPs. Yet accessing a GP continues to be a common issue that people talk to their local Healthwatch about.
Using NHS guidelines, we have pulled together some answers to help you understand your rights when registering with your GP.
Do I need a proof of address to register with my GP?
Having proof of where you live helps but, NHS guidelines make clear that it is not necessary for you to have a proof of address when registering with a GP. This also applies if you are an asylum seeker, refugee, a homeless patient or an overseas visitor, whether lawfully in the UK or not.
Do I need ID to register with my GP?
You do not have to provide ID when registering with a GP, but it is helpful to do so. Below is a list of documents that you can use as ID at a GP:
- Birth certificate
- Biometric residence permit
- Travel document
- HC2 certificate
- ARC card
- Utility bill
What could stop me from being able to register at my GP?
A GP must explain the reason for refusing a patient's request to register in writing. The GP has the right to refuse patients if they meet the following criteria:
- It has no capacity to take on new patients
- It may not be accepting patients that do not live within its practice boundary
- In your particular circumstances, it may not be appropriate for you to register with a practice that is a long way from where you live
What to do if you are refused the right to register
Ask the GP receptionist to write the reason why they cannot register you. If the GP already has too many patients they can refuse to register you, but this must be explained in writing.
Here are a number of ways that you can make a complaint:
By email (for the attention of the complaints manager in subject line)
By post: NHS England, P.O. Box 16738, Redditch, B97 9PT
By phone: 0300 311 2233 (Telephone Interpreter Service available)
Further information can be found from your local Citizens Advice or your local Healthwatch. This information can be made available in alternative formats, such as easy read or large print and may be available in alternative languages upon request. To receive this, contact 0300 311 2233 or send an email to NHS England.
I want to change my GP practice, do I have to give a reason?
No, you don't have to tell your practice why you want to change, or your new one why you made that decisions.
You will need to fill in a registration form. A request will then be made to your current GP for your medical records to be transferred to the new GP surgery.
For more information on how to register in practices further away from your residence, closer to your work for example, read more here.
Do you know anyone who could benefit from a GP Access card?
Previously known as My Right to Healthcare, GP Access cards allow people who aren't registered with a GP practice, have no fixed address or identification to communicate their right to healthcare.
Everyone in England is entitled to register with a GP. Many people who experience health inequalities can face barriers when trying to register. Practices should not turn people away because they do not have proof of ID, address or immigration status.
People can also register if they do not know or do not have an NHS number.
Being registered with a GP has many benefits, the most important one at the moment is that GPs can identify those people who are clinically vulnerable to Covid-19 and ensure that they are invited to get a vaccination.
Local Healthwatch and voluntary organisations across the country are distributing the GP access cards to vulnerable communities who are less likely to be registered with a GP. The card, similar in look to a credit card provides details of how to register. On the back of the card is the NHS England Customer Contact Centre number, for people to use if they have been refused registration.
The cards explain that all have a right to register with GP surgeries, including those experiencing homelessness, Gypsies and Travellers and other people who may be refused registration. They are small, plastic, credit card-style cards emphasising that when registering with a GP:
- you do not need a fixed address
- you do not need identification
- your immigration status does not matter
To access the cards in different languages please click this link click here
Are you an asylum seeker, refugee, a homeless patient or an overseas visitor, whether lawfully in the UK or not? Download these leaflets and be more aware of your rights to register with your GP.