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Registering frustration

3 June 2015

Can a simpler, clearer registration process reduce demand on health services - and improve the patient experience?

Registering frustration cover

Registering frustration [ 0.58 mb] explores how confusing and complex GP registration processes can lead to people ending up in the wrong parts of the health system.

This wastes valuable time and money - and leads to a poorer user experience.

This research, carried out in partnership with 35 local Citizens Advice, is based on a survey of 567 GP surgeries and an online survey of 518 people run through the Citizens Advice website.

Key findings include:

Policy Researcher Lizzie Greenhalgh's blog

Registering with a GP: why we need a clear, simple process

  • Identification requirements vary widely between GP practices. Three in five surgeries (58 per cent) were unable to register people without both proof of address and photo identification (ID), but 13 per cent required only one form of ID and 12 per cent asked for no ID.

  • Where registration is complex or overly demanding, it may hinder efficient demand management at the specific practice and in the health service locally. Where people had inadequate ID, a quarter of surgeries offered temporary registration, but one in seven people were signposted to an accident and emergency centre (A&E) or acute care.

  • Some GP surgeries have done impressive work to streamline registration processes. Some allow patients to register in full online, while 28 per cent offer same day registration. Over a third (36 per cent) of patients say their registration took 24 hours or less.

  • Registration processes also vary for children; a quarter of surgeries (26 per cent) had no document requirements for children and 21 per cent had no requirements if the child’s parent was registered. Half required formal ID for the child.

    People are often required to visit a GP surgery multiple times in order to register. Almost one in ten online survey respondents told us it took over two weeks to register with their GP, sometimes requiring two or three visits.

  • There is fairly limited interest in using new powers to register patients outside practice boundaries (or these plans have not been shared with receptionists). One in five GP receptionists did not know or had not heard of this policy, while only one in six said their surgery was registering out of area patients.

This note is a part of a series of briefings that explore the challenge of reforming public services in a constrained spending environment.