Fact Sheet Fact Sheet

Entitlement to Primary Care

This section provides an overview of primary care entitlements, and how you can support migrant patients to register with your practice.

Last updated

on 10.04.2019

  1. Everyone in England can access NHS primary care for free.
  2. Lack of ID or proof of address should not prevent registration.
  3. Check your registration policy.

Anyone can register with a GP in England

NHS England guidance is clear: anyone can register at a GP practice, regardless of immigration status. However, DOTW UK data from 2015 show 94% of people attending the clinic had experienced difficulties accessing healthcare.

Barriers included:

  • administrative difficulties, such as lack of proof of address or ID
  • lack of knowledge of how to access the NHS
  • fear of arrest

When DOTW UK volunteers approached GP practices, 2 in 5 wrongly refused them.

Registration policies must be clear

Many practices require ID and/or proof of address to register. However, NHS England is clear that there is no requirement on patients to produce identity or residence information, and 'if a patient cannot produce any supportive documentation but states that they reside within the practice boundary then practices should accept the registration'.

Lack of address or ID is often a sign that a person is in a vulnerable situation. Refusing registration makes a bad situation worse for someone who has nowhere to turn.

Registration policies should state that those without proof of address, ID or immigration status will not be refused registration, and outline how support staff should register those without this documentation. See the 'how to' for further tips.

Further information