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NHS online GP service hits milestone with 1 million registrations

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More than one million patients have used a national online service to register with a GP since its launch 18 months ago, NHS England says.

The online Register with a GP surgery service, managed by NHS England, allows patients to go online at any time of day to find and register with a local GP without having to visit the practice in person.

One in three GP practices are now offering the service, which was designed to make the process of registering with a new GP simpler and more convenient for both patients and practices.

GP practices process 6.8 million registrations a year, with many still using paper forms, which often requires the patient having to visit the surgery in person to collect and submit paperwork. The online tool has been shown to save GP practice staff admin time.

All GP surgeries in England have been asked to offer the Register with a GP surgery service, which consists of an online registration service and an alternative paper form, from October 2024 in the recently published GP contract.

Dr Amanda Doyle, national director of Primary Care and Community Services for NHS England, said: “We’re delighted to have reached this milestone of 1 million GP registration forms submitted online in the last 18 months, which shows the value of the service for both patients and GP surgeries.

“The service not only reduces the administrative burden for general practice, but also makes GP registration much more accessible to the public – offering patients more choice, convenience and consistency.

“We continue to see a steady increase in the number of GP practices coming on board, which is helping them to save both time and money. By recently integrating the service with the NHS App, we hope even more GP practices will take advantage of this new digital tool.”

Latest figures show almost half (48%) registered outside normal GP surgery opening hours and one in 15 accessed the digital service in another language.

Primary Care Minister, Andrea Leadsom, said: “We are committed to embracing the latest technology across the NHS and this is a great example of how we are making access to GPs faster, simpler and fairer for patients.

“Online registration frees up precious time for receptionists, cuts administration workloads and ensures our hard-working GPs and their teams have more time to focus on providing high-quality care to their patients.”

Nicola Davies, practice manager at the Roseland Surgeries in Cornwall and director of the Institute of General Practice Management, said: “The Register with a GP surgery service is straightforward for practices to use, with no formal training required. It fits in around our existing processes to welcome a new patient to our practice, for example arranging medication reviews for new patients with repeat prescriptions.

“In my practice we have received really good feedback from patients as they no longer feel the need to contact our team during opening hours regarding registration – it’s given them an option that wasn’t previously available and saved the need for a trip to the surgery which is often unnecessary.” 

Patients can access the service using individual GP surgery websites, the NHS website’s Find a GP service and the NHS App. They are also encouraged to verify who they are using their NHS login where possible, but this is not essential.

Patients do not need ID, an NHS number or proof of address to register with a GP. People registering online can also use translation tools alongside the service, making it more accessible for those whose first language is not English.

A complementary paper form using the same standardised questions as the digital service is also available to the 2500+ GP surgeries offering the online service, ensuring registration is also accessible to those who may not wish to use the digital tool.

To find out more about registering with a GP surgery visit the NHS website.

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