Staying with NHS GP when homeless and moving around?
May 26, 2016 4:12 AM   Subscribe

UK Healthcare: Is there a way of remaining registered with your GP when recently homeless and staying with friends in other cities? Or accessing GP services generally without a permanent address?

I'm hosting a friend of mine from another city, who is recently homeless. They have some ongoing medical issues which involve renewing some repeat prescriptions, and also mean that they'd like to stay with their current GP, who's familiar with their history.

For various reasons, they plan to alternate between friends' places in different towns (say, Aberystwyth and Bath) until they can find a new place in their original city (Carlisle).

- Going back to Carlisle just to get a repeat prescription from their GP's office will be expensive and cost a decent amount of time/energy after what has already been a pretty disruptive time. It will also involve lying, at least by omission, about where they're living at the moment, which they'd find stressful and rather not do.

- Getting an emergency prescription refill from a doctor here in Aberystwyth is possible but, again, will involve lying about the living situation.

- Telling the truth about where they're living now (alternating between Aberystwyth and Bath) will mean being dumped by their preferred GP in Carlisle. Plus, because both of the hosts get the council tax discount for living alone, doing anything that has my friend officially living with one of us will significantly increase our individual council tax bills and, possibly, rent. (I don't mind doing this, but my friend strongly dislikes this idea because no matter what I say they'll feel guilty about not being able to pay me back).

What options are we missing? Is there a way to e.g. convince the NHS that my friend is on an extended holiday in this part of the country, and fill/renew prescriptions without deregistering from their old GP and re-registering here? How would registering for a GP even work if you have no proof of address, and it's just a friend's house you're staying at?

Bonus points: Similar question, but for registering to vote in the EU referendum.

(All this is in England, if it's relevant to your answers. Specific city names were picked arbitrarily to be A, B, C...)
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I don't know for 100% sure they wouldn't question the address changes but if your friend registers for electronic prescriptions and selects online pharmacy, their GP should send the prescription to LLoyds Pharmacy and they'll deliver it. Detail here
posted by missmagenta at 4:45 AM on May 26, 2016

Could they use a pharmacy repeat prescription service? Looks like Boots for instance will allow you to collect your prescription from any branch once you've signed up. So they sign up in Carlisle, then say they are travelling to Bath and pick up from there.

Voter registration - see this page from Shelter.
posted by crocomancer at 4:46 AM on May 26, 2016

Could they call their current GP's office from a mobile (to avoid revealing current location) and say they're considering temporarily relocating and wondering how to handle their repeat prescription, given that they intend to return to Carlise before long?

That would at least give you an idea whether the surgery has a straightforward work-around for this that would save thinking up more complicated schemes/lying. It sounds like the kind of thing that might depend on the policy of the individual surgery, as to whether they're able/willing to send repeat scripts to patients or chemists outside their area, on a temporary basis.
posted by penguin pie at 4:46 AM on May 26, 2016

Ok, so you can get emergency treatment from local GPs if you're staying somewhere for up to 14 days without registering; after that, you have to register as a temporary resident, with an address in that area - you can be a temporary resident for three months. This is the info you are looking for.

Changes in NHS England means that GP practices are allowed to take on or keep patients from outside their area, but this is voluntary - info here.

This is the CQC's good practice on providing healthcare for homeless people - it's aimed at GPs, but might be a good thing to point to if trying to negotiate.
posted by Vortisaur at 5:55 AM on May 26, 2016 [1 favorite]

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