Access & Identity - Registering with a GP

Healthwatch for Dorset, Hampshire, Isle of Wight, Portsmouth and Southampton contacted 322 GP practices to ask what they required from patients when registering.
Doctor with a patient at surgery

We are pleased to be able share the findings of a mystery shopping exercise into registering with a local GP undertaken by five local Healthwatch across the Wessex area. The aim was to explore whether people are facing barriers to registering by having to provide photo ID. 

The intention was to discover which practices had updated their registration policy to reflect amended national guidance. Although practices are allowed to request proof of address and/or photo ID, all staff must be made aware that they should not refuse registration if a patient cannot or will not provide ID. 

The exercise found that 286 practices (or 88.8%) required some sort of proof of identification or address before a patient could be registered.

We are concerned that by asking for identification some patients may be incorrectly assuming that it is compulsory to provide identification when it is not. This could result in vulnerable individuals being excluded from receiving the care that they are entitled to.

We are therefore recommending practices either adopt a policy of not asking for any identification at all or ensure all staff are adequately trained to explain to newly registering patients that identification is preferred but not essential. We would also recommend updating practice information to reflect that although proof of identification and address may be preferred, it is not essential to registering.

Find links below to our Hampshire report 'Access and Identity' which also provides a snapshot of availability of same day and routine appointments, the Wessex-wide report published by 'Wessex Voices' and a report created by one of our volunteers, David Levey, looking at opening times and registration processes through evaluation of surgery websites.

Find out more from the following reports:

Access and Identity Report (Healthwatch Hampshire)

Registering with a GP (Wessex Voices)

Accessing GP Services (website evaluation by volunteer)

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