New research published by Doctors of the World UK has found that 1 in 5 attempts to register vulnerable patients are being wrongfully refused by GP surgeries in England, despite being fully entitled to access NHS primary care. Pregnant women, children, homeless people, survivors of torture and trafficking and people who have fled war, most of them Londoners, are among those who have been wrongly turned away. Lack of ID or proof of address was the most common reason for refusal (affecting 60% of attempts) and 10% of attempts were refused based on the patient’s immigration status. Everyone living in the UK is entitled to free primary care and such refusals often contravene NHS guidelines.
DOTW has also launched their Safe Surgeries initiatives to support GP practices to provide safe and accessible services to everyone in their community. Practices who become Safe Surgeries can gain access to training, tailored resources, and a supportive national network of practices committed to tackling the barriers preventing vulnerable people from accessing their services. Asylum Matters has previously sent around a briefing on healthcare charging aimed at refugee and asylum support organisations in England – if you missed it, you can find it here.