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Online GP registrations reaches one million mark

by Emily Roberts and Rima Evans
25 March 2024

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One in three GP surgeries in England now offer the online Register with a GP surgery service, with the number of patient users hitting the one million milestone, Government data has shown.

The free digital tool, launched by NHS England 18 months ago, allows patients to go online at any time of day to find a local GP and register without having to visit the practice in person to collect and submit forms.

Figures have shown there continues to be a steady increase in the number of practices providing the service. However, all surgeries must adopt it from this October, under the 2024/25 GP contract.

By October, practices are also required to switch to a new paper form for registration that uses the same standardised questions as the digital service, ensuring the process remains accessible to those who may not wish to use the digital tool.

NHS England said the online registration service has shown to save practices ‘time and money’,  as surgeries process 6.8 million registrations a year.

Once a patient registers online, the service automatically checks if they live in the surgery’s catchment area and matches them to their NHS record. Registration details are then sent to the GP, by email, in a standard format.

There are plans to ‘integrate the service directly with GP clinical systems’, NHS England has said.

Latest data revealed almost half (48%) of all patients using the online tool registered outside normal GP surgery opening hours and one in 15 accessed the digital service in another language.

Nicola Davies, practice manager at the Roseland Surgeries in Cornwall, and a director of the Institute of General Practice Management, said the tool is straightforward to use with no formal training required.

She explained: ‘In my practice we have received really good feedback from patients as they no longer feel the need to contact our team during opening hours regarding registration – it’s given them an option that wasn’t previously available and saved the need for a trip to the surgery which is often unnecessary.’

Ms Davies also added: ‘It fits in around our existing processes to welcome a new patient to our practice, for example arranging medication reviews for new patients with repeat prescriptions.’.

Dr Amanda Doyle, national director of primary care and community services for NHS England,  said: ‘We’re delighted to have reached this milestone of one million GP registration forms submitted online in the last 18 months, which shows the value of the service for both patients and GP surgeries.

‘The service not only reduces the administrative burden for general practice, but also makes GP registration much more accessible to the public – offering patients more choice, convenience and consistency.

‘By recently integrating the service with the NHS App, we hope even more GP practices will take advantage of this new digital tool.’

Patients can access the service from theirl GP surgery website, the NHS website’s Find a GP Service and the NHS App.