Report on a mini-surveyAccess to primary healthcare – GP surgeries, May 2020

Following reports that migrants in Haringey often struggle to access primary healthcare services via GP surgeries and that they are wrongly told they require ID and proof of address to register, Haringey Welcome initiated a survey of access to primary healthcare for migrants in the borough, to find out if GP surgeries were complying with national guidance in this regard.  

Our volunteers held ‘secret shopper’ telephone interviews with 17 of the 38 NHS GP surgeries in Haringey, using a questionnaire specially developed for the purpose. 

The results were concerning: Approximately two-thirds of the GP practices surveyed refused to register a patient who either had no UK residency status, no formal ID or no recognised proof of address.  Only one practice agreed to register such patients with no prior conditions. 

These results point very clearly to an urgent need for training and awareness-raising activities among GP surgeries in all parts of the borough in order to encourage compliance with national guidance. Training is needed not only for medical staff but also for reception and office management staff.

At a time when the NHS is charging migrants for secondary and tertiary medical care it is very concerning to learn that even primary care, which everyone has a right to access free of charge regardless of status, is being denied to many migrants.  We think GPs and other healthcare sector workers should not be gatekeepers. They should be actively helping people access care and ensuring that only medical considerations guide their decisions. In the age of Covid19, we know that the health of one person affects the health of all society and that no one should be left behind

We will be taking this report to Haringey Council, Haringey CCG and other actors to make sure that it is known and acted upon.   Watch this space for future updates and see below how you can get active.

Share our report and get active in your neighbourhood. 

We are sharing the report of our survey including the questionnaire we used in the hope that this campaign can be replicated by community groups in other boroughs in London and across the UK, and to help you remind your GPs of their duties to patients and promote access to healthcare for all. 

Download a copy of our report here.

You can also ask GP surgeries in your area to make use of the resources in the Doctors of the World Safe Surgeries Toolkit.

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