Published: 05:42 PM, 25 August 2023 Last Update: 05:44 PM, 25 August 2023
More than 425,000 patients have used a new national online service to register with a GP in its first year.
The Register with a GP surgery service, which is managed by NHS England, means NHS patients have been benefiting from easier and more convenient access to GP registration since it was launched in August 2022.
Many GP surgeries still use paper forms, requiring patients to visit surgeries to collect paperwork. The new online service has been shown to save GP surgery staff up to 15 minutes per registration by helping to reduce paperwork and admin time.
The service invites patients to go online at any time of day to find a local GP and register without having to visit in person, making the process easier for both patients and GP surgeries.
Almost half (48%) of all patients using the online tool registered outside normal GP surgery opening hours, taking full advantage of improved accessibility and convenience.
Two thirds (68%) of patients using the service over the past 12 months were switching GPs. Other submissions included patients registering with a GP for the first time, newborns and ex-military patients.
Stephen Koch, NHS England’s Executive Director of Platforms, said:
“We’re pleased to see one in five GP surgeries are now part of the national online Register with a GP surgery service, giving patients an improved experience and helping to reduce known barriers that exist with GP registration.
“Patients no longer have to visit a surgery to register as they can access the service any time, outside working hours, using the internet or NHS App.
“It is free for GP surgeries to use and saves them time by making the process much simpler.”
More than 1,400 GP surgeries – one in five nationally - have already joined the NHS online registration service, as part of a new plan to improve access to primary care, which aims for 2,000 practices to be enrolled with the Register with a GP surgery service by December 2023.
Dr Matt Curtis, a GP at Holycroft Surgery in Keighley, West Yorkshire, said: “Being able to register online saves people a trip into the practice to collect a paper registration pack, and it also saves time for our staff team as the information goes direct into the GP workflow seamlessly, making the process easier for everyone. The feedback is really positive - more and more people are gaining confidence to use digital tools for accessing health services. Registering with a GP online is easier and more convenient for many people.”
Dr Amanda Doyle, National Director of Primary Care and Community Services for NHS England, said: “At a time when record numbers of patients are coming forward to see their GP, this is one of the many ways the NHS is transforming the way practices work to make it as easy as possible for people to get the care they need. It helps free up the time of busy practice staff so they can spend more time focusing on patients, and less time filling in paperwork.”
Patients can access the service using individual GP surgery websites and the NHS website's Find a GP service, which is also available through the NHS App.
Registration is quick and easy, with the service automatically checking patients live in the catchment area for their new GP surgery. It also matches patients to their NHS records, further cutting admin for surgeries, and is compatible with online translation tools.
Health Minister Neil O’Brien said: “We are cutting unnecessary bureaucracy which wastes the time of skilled clinicians and primary care staff so they can concentrate on what is most important – caring for patients.
“This is another great example of an additional online service which helps patients and primary care staff and I am pleased it is working so well.
“As part of our Primary Care Recovery Plan we are continuing to expand digital tools for those who would like to use them whether booking appointments, seeking advice or registering for services.”
An updated paper form has also been devised for GP surgeries in England offering the online service. The new-look form uses the same standardised questions as the digital service, reducing variation in the patient experience, and has been designed using feedback from patients and GP surgeries.
To find out more about registering with a GP surgery visit the NHS website.