Practices are set to pilot a pre-release registration scheme for prisoners, in an effort to maintain continuity of care.
The pilot scheme, which will launch over the summer, will see prisoners in Sheffield registered with a GP near the prison up to one month ahead of their release.
GP leaders have welcomed the pilot, saying it will ensure GPs are ‘fully equipped’ when ex-offenders visit the practice.
The pilot scheme, which will be rolled out across the country by 2020, follows negotiations by the BMA’s GP Committee over changes to the GP contract in 2017/18 that allowed for the pre-registration scheme to be implemented.
According to the contract changes last year, the scheme will have ‘an emphasis on medication history and substance misuse management plans, to enable better care when a new patient first presents at the practice’.
The 2017/18 GMS guidance states that the preferred practice will be notified by telephone and recieve a signed GMS1 registration form ’up to one month prior to the date of release’, adding that there is ’no need for the patient to attend the practice for the purposes of registration’.
This is in contrast to the GP registration for offenders scheme launched in London in 2016, which sees offenders register with a local practice after their release as part of their reintegration into the community.
NEL, formerly North East London CSU, was commissioned by NHS England to run the scheme as part of the support it provides to healthcare services in prisons.
A spokesperson for NEL said that, with ex-offenders only released with seven day’s worth of medication, the scheme particularly intends to help patients who have been imprisoned for 10 to 15 years and have no GP records.
Dr Mark Sanford-Wood, BMA GP Committee deputy chair, said: ‘It is important that GPs have full, up-to-date information about all patients so that they can provide the best possible care.
‘This scheme improves the sharing of records between the secure environment and the practice so that GPs are fully equipped with the patient’s medical history when they first visit the surgery.
He added that the new scheme ’will help both practices and patients, reducing potential harm from lack of information’.
The NEL spokesperson said the scheme to register ex-offenders ‘with a community GP before they are released’ plans to ‘ensure that those without a registered GP will receive continuity of care’.
‘As this moves into its pilot phase over the summer, GP practices close to the patient’s place of release may be contacted by healthcare teams to pre-register the patient.
‘This work is part of NEL’s national work across the health and justice system, commissioned by NHS England.’