Refugees and asylum seekers often find it difficult to register with a GP. The most common reason is confusion among reception and administrative staff about who is eligible and what documents they need to register.
Identity documents and registration
Practices do not need to request any identity documents to register a new patient.
However, some surgeries may ask patients to provide documents, including identification, proof of address and sometimes proof of immigration status in order to register.
Such requests must be non-discriminatory. For example, they cannot be based on the applicant's race, gender, social class, age, religion, sexual orientation, appearance, disability or medical condition.
Staff who register patients should be made aware of the difficulties refugees and asylum seekers may have in producing identity documents. They will need to be flexible about the documents they accept and include biometric residence permits or application registration cards from the Home Office.
If a patient is not able to provide identity documents, it is not reasonable grounds to refuse to register them.
Raising awareness among reception and administrative staff
Practices should take steps to ensure that reception and administrative staff understand what is contractually required and do not incorrectly refuse to register vulnerable patients.
Staff who register new patients should also be aware that they are not required to complete the appendix of the English GMS1 registration form relating to immigration status.
Practices in England may find it helpful to have copies of this NHS England leaflet, which sets out the registration process for practice staff and patients.