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More than 1m online GP registrations

Landmark number of registrations with GP surgeries using national online service launched 18 months ago by NHS England. 

One in three GP practices in England now offer the simple, convenient ‘Register with a GP surgery’ online service that enables people to sign up with a new GP at any time of day and without having to visit a practice in person. 

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Photo by Sasun Bughdaryan

That’s significant given that GP practices across the country process a total of some 6.8m registrations each year. Many practices still use paper forms for registration. Those wishing to register must often visit the practice in person to both collect the paperwork and then submit it when completed. That paperwork must then be entered into digital systems by staff at that practice. The online process saves time and effort for everyone involved. 

What’s more, there’s good evidence that online registration makes things more accessible. Some 48% of those who used the online system registered outside normal GP surgery opening hours, and 6.7% accessed the service in using translation tools to read it in a language other than English. 

Given the obvious benefits, all GP surgeries in England have been asked to offer the ‘Register with a GP surgery’ service from October 2024, as detailed in the recently published contract for GPs. That doesn’t mean practices will only accept registrations submitted online: the registration service offers both online and paper options, offering patients choice over what best suits them. The paper form uses the same standardised questions as the online service. 

Patients do not require identification, an NHS number or proof of address to register with a GP, though they are encouraged to verify who they are on the online system using their NHS login where possible – which helps to offer a more joined-up service and reducing further admin for surgery staff. Some 90% of patients using the service have been matched to an NHS record. 

Nicola Davies, Practice Manager at the Roseland Surgeries in Cornwall and Director of the Institute of General Practice Management, says: ‘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.’ 

Dr Amanda Doyle, National Director of Primary Care and Community Services for NHS England, adds: ‘We’re delighted to have reached this milestone of 1m 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.’ 

Andrea Leadsom MP, Minister for Public Health, Start for Life and Primary Care, says: ‘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.’

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