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NHSE: Practice websites still excluding certain groups from accessing GP services

by Jess Hacker
28 April 2021

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Practices have been told to review their websites to ensure they are not discouraging migrants or people experiencing homelessness from registering.

NHS England asked practices on Tuesday (27 April) to ensure the messaging on their website reminds potential patients that they do not need proof of ID, address, immigration status or an NHS number to receive care from a GP.

It said that this was not a legal requirement and ‘can often be the reason’ why people do not wish to register with their local practice.

NHSE said: ‘Many practice websites however are still displaying messaging that exclude certain members of society from accessing GP services.

‘We are therefore asking all GP practices to review their practice website, to include a statement that anyone can register without needing proof of ID, address, or immigration status, similar to that on the webpage.’

NHSE also encouraged practices to offer an initial health assessment for new registrants to identify those vulnerable to Covid-19, as well as training receptionists to support people experiencing homelessness.

Practices can also join the Safe Surgeries initiative, which reassures people that immigration status will not be checked, the bulletin said.

This comes after Healthwatch England recommended last month that NHSE undertake a formal review of access to GP services to help practices address potential barriers to care exacerbated during the pandemic.

The patient watchdog found the switch to remote consultations had not ‘met everyone’s needs’ and said a review would ‘help establish the changes that are working well’.

Meanwhile, a recent study in the British Journal of General Practice (BJGP), found that the websites of more than three-quarters of GP practices in Scotland were more difficult to read than is recommended.