Vulnerable people without a fixed address are being turned away from GP surgeries, new research has found, despite NHS guidelines that say they should receive treatment.
Charity Friends, Families and Travellers had a mystery shopper posing as a person without proof of address or identification who had just moved to the area contact 50 surgeries around England. Nearly half would not register her.
Of those contacted, 24 would refused to register the mystery shopper either as a permanent patient or as a temporary patient. That included 17 GP practices that would not register people without proof of identification, 12 that would not register people without an address and one which said they would only register people online. Two GP practices were called multiple times on different days but never picked up the phone.
The NHS guidelines say that there is “no regulatory requirement” for someone applying to become a patient to prove their identity, address, immigration status or NHS number.
Following the report, Secretary of State for Healthy and Social Care Matt Hancock will today receive a letter signed by more than 30 charities and human rights organisations including Homeless Link, Liberty, Mind and Race Equality Foundation demanding action is taken to address the issue.
Experts want the government to set up a taskforce which will ensure nobody is wrongfully denied access to healthcare.