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Safe Surgeries and Surgeries of Sanctuary – improving welcome in GP practices

Safe Surgeries and Surgeries of Sanctuary – improving welcome in GP practices

In its first year, Doctors of the World UK’s Safe Surgeries initiative has gathered commitments from over 175 GP practices across 11 cities and towns to provide safe and accessible services to everyone in their community, particularly vulnerable patients, migrants and refugees. City of Sanctuary has embraced Safe Surgeries as a great way to improve healthcare access for people seeking sanctuary and encourages local groups to promote it in their local health networks.


Safe Surgeries was set up in response to Doctors of the World’s findings that 1 in 5 of their attempts to register patients with a GP were being wrongfully refused, despite the fact that everyone living in the UK is entitled to access NHS primary care for free. The biggest barriers are lack of proof of ID or address – but NHS guidance in England, Scotland and Wales is clear that not having these documents is not a valid reason to refuse a patient.

To join, GP practices must commit to the Safe Surgeries principles and can access free training, a range of practical resources and guidance, as well as advice from Doctors of the World and links to a growing national learning network to share good practice and solutions.

What is a Safe Surgery?

A Safe Surgery can be any GP practice that signs up and commits to the following principles:

  1. Safe Surgeries don’t refuse to register patients without proof of ID or address documents.
  2. They never ask to see a visa or proof of immigration status.
  3. They do what they can to reassure patients that their personal information is safe.
  4. They use an interpreter, whenever needed.
  5. They display posters to reassure patients that their practice is a welcoming space.
  6. They empower frontline staff with training and an inclusive registration policy.


Outstanding Safe Surgeries, who go above and beyond to embed inclusive practices and spread the word within their local health systems, can be nominated as Surgeries of Sanctuary and receive national recognition.

See links below for more info and to download the Safe Surgeries resources:




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