Summary of report content
Healthwatch Southend-on-Sea undertook a mystery shopper exercise to see what information local practice websites held for patients seeking to register as new patients. This began as part of their work to support people who are homeless, but the implications affect a wider section of the population.
The work was undertaken by staff and volunteers from August 2020 onwards. Practice websites were reviewed to see what new patients were told about the process and whether documentation was required. Where the website lacked information, a call was made to the practice to ascertain their practice policy.
Healthwatch Southend found that four practices still lacked websites despite us flagging this to the CCG earlier in the year. They found that a number of practices insisted on new patients providing proof of address, such as a utility bill, and photographic ID. The latter goes against NHSE's Primary Medical Care Policy and Guidance Manual, which states that this can discriminate against some patients. Other practices merely required new patients to bring their NHS card or complete a GMS1 form. They also found that some practices had information in languages other than English to help new patients register. Unfortunately the text of these factsheets contradicted the practice’s own policy.
The CCG has agreed to review the findings.