Register with a GP

You have the legal right to choose a GP practice that best suits your needs although your university will have links with specific GP practices in the area who support universities and students.

The GP practice must accept you, unless there are reasonable grounds to refuse you. These must not relate to race, gender, social class, age, religion, sexual orientation, appearance, disability or a medical condition. It must also give you reasons for its decision in writing. A GP practice may refuse to register you because:

  • it has no capacity to take on new patients
  • it may not be accepting patients that do not live within its practice boundary
  • in your particular circumstances, it may not be appropriate for you to register with a practice that is a long way from where you live

Since January 2015 all GP practices in England are free to register new patients who live outside their practice boundary area, but it is for a practice to decide, at the point of registration, whether it is clinically appropriate and practical to register individual patients in that way. For more information, read about patient choice of GP practices.

You can read more about your legal rights to choice in the NHS on the GOV.UK website.

If you have problems registering with a nearby GP practice, contact NHS England’s Customer Contact Centre.

Can I change GP practice?

You have the right to change practices if you wish to. Many people switch practices because they:

You can change practices without having to give a reason.

However, it is helpful to tell the practice you are leaving. You can then approach another practice and apply to join its list of patients.

Being registered at another local practice is not a reason to be refused registration with another GP.

Registering with a GP

When you have found a practice you like, you'll have to formally register with it as an NHS patient by submitting a registration form to them. The GMS1 form (PDF, 156kb) is available in the practice, or you can download it from this site. Forms may vary slightly and some practices use their own version.

When you have completed and returned the form, NHS England will transfer your medical records to your new practice and write to you to confirm your registration as a patient with that practice.

Parents or guardians can register a baby at a practice by completing and presenting form FP58 (PDF, 34kb), which is issued at the same time as a birth certificate.

Some GP practices may ask for proof of identity when you register, especially when you register children in your care. This may be used to check your details match with the information held on the NHS central patient registry and that your previous medical notes are passed on to the new practice.

You should not be refused registration or appointments because you don’t have a proof of address or personal identification at hand. It is not considered a reasonable ground to refuse registration. This also applies if you are an asylum seeker, refugee, a homeless patient or an overseas visitor, whether lawfully in the UK or not.

How to register as a temporary resident

If you fall ill while away from university, or if you are not registered with a GP but need to see one, you can still contact your nearest practice to ask for treatment. You can receive emergency treatment for 14 days. After that you will have to register as a temporary resident or permanent patient.

Registration as a temporary resident allows you to be taken on to the practice's list for up to three months. If you are registered with a practice but are away from your home area, you can register temporarily with a practice near where you are currently staying and still remain a patient of your registered practice.

Try to have the following information available when you attend your appointment for the first time:

  • details of your ongoing medical problems
  • details of medical problems you have suffered in the past
  • details of any medicines that you are currently taking
  • details of any allergies
  • contact details of your registered or previous practice