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

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. It is in everyone’s best interests that all patients can access our services so that we can deal with their health conditions before they become more severe 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. This must be addressed if people need more awareness, sometimes because of past miscommunication around registration eligibility rules. To this end, the RCGP has supported the Doctors of the World's Safe Surgery initiative, which has produced tools for GP practices to improve GP accessibility for all, including those in inclusion health groups.

“The College has previously proposed to maximise social inclusion in general practice and make access easier for those entitled. If receptionists and clinical staff received better training on the legal requirements for providing care and necessary documentation. We must ensure that vulnerable individuals do not slip through the cracks due to preventable technical issues."

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.