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CQC Essentials: Patient registration

The CQC expects practices to meet their duties around providing emergency and immediately necessary treatment - practices only have limited discretion about whether to register an individual.

This article relates to the CQC key question: Is your practice responsive to people's needs? 

The registered list of patients and the generalist approach to care are key strengths of UK general practice.

We are often asked how we assess whether a practice is responsive to needs of its population. An important principle is that GP practices should be proactive in understanding the needs of different groups of people and deliver care to meet these needs. General practice can play an active role to improve population health and this is considered in our responsive key question.

Anyone, regardless of nationality and residential status, may register and consult with a GP without charge.

The NHS Constitution sets out:

  • the right for members of the public to choose their GP practice, unless there are reasonable grounds for the practice to refuse, and
  • the right to express a preference for using a particular doctor within their practice  and for the practice to try and comply.

What does this mean for practices?

The GPC has published guidance on patient registration to clarify what is required of practices within England to meet their contractual obligations.

What do does the CQC look at when it inspects practices?

The BMA’s guidance informs our judgment on how responsive a practice is and whether it is organised to meet people’s needs.

We expect practices to meet their duties around providing emergency and immediately necessary treatment. When a patient does not require emergency or immediately necessary treatment, practices only have limited discretion about whether to register the person.

Practices may only decline registration if they have reasonable grounds to do so which are not related to an applicant's race, gender, social class, age, religion, sexual orientation, appearance, disability or medical condition.

They should not refuse to register someone because they cannot produce proof of identity or immigration status or proof of address. Our key line of enquiry R2 looks at how well services take into account of the needs of different people, including those in vulnerable circumstances which can include gypsies, travellers, vulnerable migrants and sex workers.

GP practices provide care to their local population and this includes the most vulnerable in our society. Practices are in a key position to tackle health inequalities and so it is essential that vulnerable and social excluded groups of people can access good quality health care. This starts with being able to register with a GP.

  • Professor Nigel Sparrow is senior national GP advisor and responsible officer at the CQC

More CQC resources

Picture: iStock

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