Registering with a doctor as a continuous cruiser

Published: Wednesday, 04 October 2017

THERE should be no problem with registering with a doctor as a continuous cruiser. But often there is, as I found out some time ago, writes Keith Gudgin.

I found there is no valid legal reason why a doctors surgery can refuse to register you just because you do not have a permanent address or, more annoyingly, one of those stupid postcodes.

All in the document

The details are all in an NHS document called: 'Who pays? Determining responsibility for payments to providers: Rules and guidance for clinical commissioning groups’ published by NHS England.
A pdf copy of this document can be found here:
https://www.england.nhs.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/who-pays.pdf

When I was trying to register with a doctor I was given all types of excuses why I could not from not being resident in their area to being too old or requiring too much treatment.

Refused a registration

This is the letter I received from a Mr Peter Hawkins at the Department of Health when I complained to the parliamentary office after I was refused a registration:

The text of his reply is copied at the end of this article which in it states ‘the absence of a permanent address is not a barrier for a person with ‘no fixed abode’ to registering with a GP practice.

I also complained to NHS England highlighting the points made in this letter. I am now registered with a doctors' surgery and my registered address is the surgery address and has been since 2013.

Don't be fobbed-off

Don't let the surgery fob you off. They have no right to refuse you.

If you encounter problems registering with a GP or obtaining treatment, contact the clinical commissioning group (CCG) responsible for commissioning health services in that local area.
Contact details can be obtained from the GP surgery or on the NHS Choices website at:
http://www.nhs.uk/Service-Search/Clinical%20Commissioning%20Group/LocationSearch/1

If you don't get satisfaction then complain to NHS England here:
https://www.england.nhs.uk/contact-us/complaint/complaining-to-nhse/

And also complain to your MP here:
http://www.parliament.uk/get-involved/contact-your-mp/
after all you are entitled to a doctor.

Complaining worked

Complaining worked for me, in less than 24 hours after I sent an email complaint to NHS England I had an email from the doctors surgery stating I was being registered with them and my registered address would be the surgery address.
They now send all correspondence to me via email.

You don't even need to keep going back to them for prescriptions if you are on regular repeat medication. You can get your repeat prescriptions anywhere in England by using the electronic prescription service (EPS).

A chemist near you

All you need to do is go into a chemist near where you are moored and get them to register you on the system. Get their details i.e. address and EPS code and send it, I use email, to your doctors surgery asking them to put your repeat prescription on the EPS using the details you have sent them.

Leave it a couple of days to be done then you can collect your medication from the chemist. Don't worry about moving to a new area and needing a new prescription as you can re-register at another chemist at any time, just make sure your surgery knows the new chemists details when you ask for your repeat prescription.

I've been doing this for some time and it works fine. It's also best if you get your doctor to issue you with three months worth of medication at a time then you don't have to re-register too often.

The letter from the Department of Heath

Here is the text of the letter I recieved in 2013 from Peter Hawkins at the Department of Health:

Thank you for your email of 4 October about registering with a GP. I have been asked to reply.
The document ‘Who pays? Determining responsibility for payments to providers: Rules and guidance for clinical commissioning groups’ published by NHS England states that ‘the absence of a permanent address is not a barrier for a person with ‘no fixed abode’ to registering with a GP practice. In many instances, practices have used the practice address in order to register a homeless person’. While the guidance does not specifically mention people who cruise on the canals in the UK, it does cover the general term of people with ‘no fixed abode’.

In addition, if a person wants to see a GP and is visiting an area for more than 24 hours but less than three months, they can apply to register with a GP surgery as a temporary resident. The application can be made using form GMS3, which can be requested from the GP surgery. A person can register temporarily with a practice near where they are currently staying and still remain a patient of their registered practice.

Furthermore, if a person is ill while away from home or if they are not registered with a GP practice but they need to see one, they can still contact their nearest practice to ask for treatment. People are entitled to receive emergency treatment for 14 days. After that they will be required to register as a temporary resident or permanent patient.

Finally, people can also visit a NHS walk-in centre or minor injuries unit.
If people encounter problems registering with a GP or obtaining treatment, concerns should be directed to the clinical commissioning group (CCG) responsible for commissioning health services in that local area. Contact details for CCGs can be obtained from the GP surgery or on the NHS Choices website at:
http://www.nhs.uk/Service-Search/Clinical%20Commissioning%20Group/LocationSearch/1
(enter the postcode of the GP practice, or temporary residence in the search field and follow the links).

I hope this reply is helpful.

Yours sincerely,
Peter Hawkins
Ministerial Correspondence and Public Enquiries
Department of Health