Everyone can see a GP free of charge in England. This ‘how to’ helps you to ensure your practice supports registration for those in vulnerable situations.
Read the Factsheets: entitlement to Primary Care and Data Sharing
Make sure you and your practice staff know the guidance: that everyone is entitled to free primary care
Be aware of barriers faced by vulnerable patients
Check your registration policy: do you have a policy for those without ID or proof of address?
Protect confidentiality and dignity of patient by using interpreters, not family members or friends
Provide support to those who are fearful at registration
Never ask about immigration status or visa—they are not relevant in primary care
Treat lack of proof of ID/address as a red flag for vulnerability
Until recently, patient data was shared with the Home Office for immigration enforcement. Patients can use the surgery address or a friend’s if they remain fearful about the safety of their personal information.
Use interpreters where needed
Take a whole practice approach
Use clinical discretion to classify treatment as ‘urgent or immediately necessary’ where appropriate
Always ask about violence—many of the charging exemptions are linked to violence
Always consider trafficking
Refer to secondary care regardless of status (it is the hospital’s responsibility to determine eligibility to care - the fact sheet on entitlement to secondary care provides further details)
See the Doctors of the World ‘Safe Surgeries’ Toolkit, which has guidance on how to make your surgery safe for patients in vulnerable situations