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Practice Q&A

Is Pre-registration check vital?

Our expert answers your questions

Q. We always insist on a pre-registration clinical check with the practice nurse before registering any new patient. One of the partners believes we should not do so. Who is correct?

A. The GPC believes this is procedurally incorrect and a practice would be breaching its obligations to insist on this check, but the profession seems divided over the contractual probity of these pre-registration checks.

Under the new contract you must invite all newly registered patients to attend a clinical consultation within six months of being registered. Under the old contract many practices adopted a strategy of pre-registration checks because so many patients chose not to attend the new patient check.

Many doctors believe it is critical to the provision of good clinical care to establish an initial medical baseline to inform subsequent care. If this is your view then you must be extremely careful to ensure that no element of discrimination creeps into this procedure if you subsequently choose not to register an applicant for any reason.

You are not obliged to accept every patient, but must not discriminate on the basis of race, gender, social class, age, religion, sexual orientation, appearance, disability or medical condition. You may refuse any applicant who lives outside the practice area. You may also refuse to register a patient if your list is closed or temporarily full.

It would be sensible to have a list of non-discriminatory criteria that are always applied in making any decision not to register a patient. You must notify a patient in writing within 14 days of a refusal to register them, stating clearly the reason for your decision. You must keep a written record of any refusals for possible inspection by the PCT.

If a patient who had recently moved to the area attended your surgery for emergency or immediately necessary treatment you would be obliged to provide this.

You could provide the treatment on a temporary patient basis if you have valid reasons for refusing to register the patient.

Wessex LMCs

Neither Pulse nor Wessex LMCs can accept any legal liability in respect of the answers given ­ readers should seek independent advice before acting on the information concerned

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