Immigration status should be no barrier to general practice or COVID-19 vaccination, says RCGP

Publication date: 15 July 2021

Responding to an investigation, by The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, which found that a number of GP surgeries were not registering undocumented migrants, Dr Victoria Tzortziou-Brown, joint Honorary Secretary for the Royal College of GPs, said the following

“A lack of ID or proof of address, immigration status or language should not be barriers to patients being able to register at a GP practice - or access important health interventions, such as COVID-19 vaccination.

"General practice is the first point of contact with the health service for 90% of patients and it is in everyone’s best interests that all patients are able to access our services, so that we can deal with their health conditions before they become more serious, or in the case of vaccine programmes, help prevent them in the first place.

"It is very important for addressing health inequalities that all patients can access general practice and if people face barriers due to a lack of awareness, sometimes because of past miscommunication, around registration eligibility rules, this needs to be addressed. To this end, the RCGP has supported the Doctors of the World's Safe Surgery initiative which has produced tools for GP practices to take steps to improve GP accessibility for all, including those in inclusion health groups.

“The College has previously put forward proposals to maximise social inclusion in general practice and make access easier for those who are entitled to it – including via better training for receptionists and clinical staff around the legalities of who is entitled to care and what documentation is necessary, so that vulnerable people don’t fall through the gaps because of avoidable technicalities."

Further Information

(For media only)

RCGP Press office – 020 3188 7633/7494/7574

Out of hours: 020 3188 7659

Notes to editor

The Royal College of General Practitioners is a network of more than 52,000 family doctors working to improve care for patients. We work to encourage and maintain the highest standards of general medical practice and act as the voice of GPs on education, training, research and clinical standards.

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