GP practice registers boater at surgery’s address following complaint

A boater recently tried to register as a permanent patient with a GP practice in Bradford on Avon by using the surgery’s own address. The GP initially refused to register the boater using the surgery’s address. The boater complained to the Practice Manager and referred the GP practice to the NHS publication Who pays? Determining responsibility for payments to providers: Rules and guidance for clinical commissioning groups. This states on page 8, Paragraph 10:

“Where a patient has “no fixed abode” and they are not registered with a GP practice, the responsible CCG should be determined by the terms of the “usually resident” test (see Annex B). If patients consider themselves to be resident at an address, which is for example a hostel, then this should be accepted. The absence of a permanent address is not a barrier for a person with “no fixed abode” to registering with a GP practice. In many instances, practices have used the practice address in order to register a homeless person.”

The GP practice apologised and registered the boater with its own address, and later asked if they would like to be alerted to any mail that arrived for them at the surgery by text or email. The practice stated that they were unaware of the publication Who pays? Determining responsibility for payments to providers: Rules and guidance for clinical commissioning groups and its advice on registering patients without a permanent address, and thanked the boater for bringing it to their attention.

A GP practice cannot lawfully refuse to register a patient unless either they are at maximum capacity and cannot safely take on any more patients at that time, or because the patient has been abusive and poses a threat to staff or other patients. However, GP practices do have “catchment areas” and they will not normally register a patient whom they consider to be outside their catchment area. Obviously if you register using the surgery’s address you are within its catchment area.

If you are visiting an area for more than 24 hours but less than three months, you can apply to register with a GP as a temporary resident. The application can be made using form GMS3, which can be requested from the GP surgery. You can register temporarily with a practice near where you are currently staying and still remain a patient of your registered practice. You can also attend a NHS walk-in centre. The contact details are available at: www.nhs.uk/Service-Search

You can download Who pays? Determining responsibility for payments to providers: Rules and guidance for clinical commissioning groups here NHS Who pays-Determining responsibility for payments to providers

Below is an example complaint if you are denied registration with a doctor because you do not have an address. You can hand this letter in at the surgery and give an email address or phone number, or obtain the surgery’s email address and deal with the matter by email. You can also download the letter here Example complaint GP registration without address

The Practice Manager

XXX Surgery/ Health Centre

Date

Dear Sir or Madam

COMPLAINT: REFUSAL OF REGISTRATION (NHS NO XXXXX/ DOB XX XX XXXX)

This is a formal complaint and I would be grateful if you would deal with it in line with your complaints procedure. On XX XX 2015 I attempted to register at your surgery using the surgery’s own address as I live on a boat without a permanent mooring in your catchment area and I do not have a residential address. The surgery refused to register me on this basis.

Contrary to your refusal to register me, you do have jurisdiction to register me using the surgery’s own address. I attach a copy of Who pays? Determining responsibility for payments to providers: Rules and guidance for clinical commissioning groups. Please refer to Paragraph 10 on page 8. This states:

Persons of ‘no fixed abode’

10.

“Where a patient has “no fixed abode” and they are not registered with a GP practice, the responsible CCG should be determined by the terms of the “usually resident” test (see Annex B). If patients consider themselves to be resident at an address, which is for example a hostel, then this should be accepted. The absence of a permanent address is not a barrier for a person with “no fixed abode” to registering with a GP practice. In many instances, practices have used the practice address in order to register a homeless person.”

To remedy my complaint, please carry out my registration using the surgery’s own address, as I requested on XX XX 2015.

Thank you. I look forward to your reply within 14 days.

Yours sincerely,

Joe Bloggs

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