Leeds GATE

Working to improve the quality of life for Gypsies and Travellers

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Accessing GP's - The Challenges of a Care Of Address

By Joanne Birtwhistle |  July 25, 2016 |

I have just completed a small health project of contacting local GP’s to establish whether or not patients were able to register under a care of (C/O) address. Not being able to register with a GP is something that understandably concerns many of our members and therefore something we wish to support them with. It was frustrating to find that the moment I mentioned a C/O address; some receptionists advised me to ‘send them to a walk in clinic!’

From experience I know that the first question asked by any ‘walk in’ clinic is: ‘Did you contact your GP first?’ Surely it would be more benefit to the NHS financially to have all patients check with a GP first, before calling into a busy ‘walk in’?  However, in this case common sense does not appear to be that common.

In the instances where GPs did offer a temporary registration to C/O addresses, they requested documents such as photo ID and proof of address! I explained members often do not have these forms of documents, especially if they were living road side. Furthermore if they had proof of address then they would be using this to register!

It would be unfair for me to say that all GPs responded in this way, there was ONE who appeared to understand the culture and lifestyle of Gypsies and Travellers. They were willing to offer permanent registration under a C/O address and all they asked for was the name and date of birth of new patients. It was refreshing to speak to someone who was willing to offer help and it was evident that training had been offered to front line receptionists in regards to working with the Gypsy and Traveller Community.

If ONE GP surgery is able to do this, then it stands to reason that they all have the authority to do the same. 



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