Patients who have been denied registration at a GP practice because of a lack of supporting documentation are to be handed ‘GP access cards’, NHS England has said.
The cards include a ‘direct number to the NHS England Customer Contact Centre’, which will ‘support people who may have been refused registration’ at practices, NHS England said.
It said the cards aim to address health inequalities and prevent practices from turning away patients who are unable to provide proof of address, ID or immigration status.
Slides presented at a GP webinar last night said that local Healthwatch and voluntary organisations will distribute the cards to people they are supporting with healthcare registration.
The slides said: ‘We know that some people experience barriers to registering with a GP. We want to ensure that everyone feels welcome in general practice.
‘People who are not registered with a GP are likely to experience significant health inequalities that make them vulnerable to Covid-19 and they need access to the vaccine.’
They added that practices should offer ‘initial health assessments’ to new patients to ‘identify vulnerability’ to coronavirus and whether they should be added to the shielding list.
Practices should also support their receptionists to complete ‘bitesize’ homelessness training, ensure their website states patients can register without ID or address and ‘reach out’ to local voluntary organisations to ‘work together’, NHS England said.
And several local authorities in England have decided to prioritise homeless people for vaccination against Covid-19, outside the current JCVI recommendations.