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Homelessness and Healthcare: the right to register

If you have any problems registering with a GP due to a lack of address or identification, there are steps you can take.

In Spring 2016, the Healthy London Partnership’s London Homeless Health Programme asked Groundswell to research the experiences of people who are homeless in London using NHS services and published the More than a statistic report based on their findings.

Two of Groundswell’s Peer Researchers, who have been homeless themselves, interviewed people using hostels and day centres about a range of health services. One of the findings that really stood out was how difficult people who sleep rough and people in insecure accommodation find it to register and use a GP surgery. As one participant explained:

“When you try to register with a doctor and they send you away because you are homeless you just end up stuck… Some of us have got mental health problems, some physical health problems and a lot of the time it might be those problems that have landed us in homelessness to begin with. When these problems aren’t going to get looked at because you don’t have an address then we are just going to be in a vicious cycle.”

It was all too common for people to report that they had been refused access to a GP practice due to not having ID, having no fixed address or not being able to prove their immigration status. This was despite the fact that it’s against NHS patient registration guidelines, which state:

  • You do not need a fixed address
  • You do not need identification
  • Your immigration status does not matter.

You can read the full article here.

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