Nearly 40% of patients turned away from registering with GP
Nearly 40% of patients are being turned away from registering with a GP, with vulnerable groups such as immigrants and asylum seekers the most likely to be affected, according to a new report.
Doctors of the World, a Médecins sans Frontières programme, made 849 attempts to register patients with a GP, of which 331 (39%) were refused.
The most common grounds for refusal was no proof of ID (39%), followed by no proof of address (36%) and the appropriate staff member not being available. There were 42 patients who were turned away because their immigration status was queried.
Leigh Daynes, executive director of Doctors of the World, said: “This report highlights a significant and serious problem. Everyone living in the UK is entitled to free primary care, GPs are our frontline defence against poor public and personal ill-health. The early detection and treatment of illness by GPs is the most cost-effective and efficient means of managing health.”
The report also found that 31% of practices always refused patient registration, whereas 16% behaved inconsistently in when they registered patients.
It warned that the groups most likely to be affected included homeless people, asylum seekers, illegal immigrants, children, pregnant women, and victims of torture, trafficking, domestic and sexual violence.
Dr Steve Mowle, spokesperson for the Royal College of GPs, said: “The last thing we want is for patients to suffer – and be living in the community with potentially contagious diseases – because they have been unable to access healthcare. But we are aware of the barriers that vulnerable groups might face in doing so.”
He said that part of the better training for general practice reception staff, pledged as part of the GP Forward View, should include training on the legalities of who is allowed to access care.
Have you got a story to tell? Would you like to become an NHE columnist? If so, click here.