The Tory group in the London Assembly said in a report published today that ensuring more people are registered with a practice would help relieve pressure on emergency departments.
The Time to Care report by Shaun Bailey AM, a member of the assembly’s health committee, said that under-registration was a factor leading people to inappropriately use A&E departments.
The mayor of London and Public Health England should reduce barriers to registering, the Conservatives said.
GP leaders have recently expressed concern over a new, national rolling list cleansing programme by NHS England and its support services contractor Capita which could see anyone who has not contacted their GP in the last five years deregistered.
Evidence in Mr Bailey's report from Healthwatch Enfield showed that a quarter of local people surveyed were not registered with a GP, with many blaming difficulties in proving their address. Many said they would instead attend A&E for healthcare.
Healthwatch said the area had a ‘transient population’, with many people living in temporary accommodation or staying with friends and family.
Along with the local public health department, Healthwatch carried out an information campaign in deprived wards with leaflets advising people of their right to register with a GP and how they could do so. Mr Bailey called for this to be replicated across London.
Londonwide LMCs welcomed the recommendation. 'Providing access to the transient populations identified in this report is a challenge for London general practice and we welcome schemes that encourage people to register with their local GP,' a spokesman said.
'General practice is at its best when neighbourhood-based expert generalists are providing person-centred care, for this reason it is important to support community GP practices across London and maintain access to high quality care close to people’s homes.'
A&E triage system
Mr Bailey also called on mayor Sadiq Khan to implement an A&E doctor triage system based on a pilot at Queen’s Hospital, part of Barking, Havering and Redbridge NHS Trust. The pilot used consultants or GPs to triage people arriving at the A&E front door and redirected up to 60 patients a day to more appropriate services or provided them with self care advice.
‘The capital’s A&E departments are buckling under the current demand but we can go some way to alleviating that pressure by redirecting patients who unnecessarily clog up our hospital waiting rooms’, said Mr Bailey.
‘The trial at Queen’s Hospital shows how a simple idea can have a significant impact and I am calling on the mayor to promote the rollout of this scheme across London. He also has a role to play in educating people about the range of care services available in London and ensuring there are no barriers to registering with the local GP.’