The NHS is sending reminder letters this month to patients in Bath, asking them to confirm if the contact details held for them on their GP practice’s database are correct.
Letters are being sent to some patients, but not all, as part of a routine piece of work to make sure GP practice lists are as accurate as possible, so that patients receive the support they need from their GP and taxpayers’ money is spent efficiently.
So far, more than 51 per cent of people have replied to either confirm their details are correct or, if they are not, any changes that need to be made to GP records.
Four groups of patients have received the letter, either because they are more likely to move house or have less frequent contact with their GP.
- Men aged 25-55 years;
- People who have not responded to calls and recalls;
- Students aged 22-24 years;
- People who have moved to England and have been registered with a GP for more than 24 months.
Correct, up-to-date address and contact details are essential for making sure patients can be contacted about their healthcare.
GP practices need to be able to contact their patients to provide them with test results, invite them for screening to protect against cancer for example, or to be vaccinated against infectious diseases such as flu or measles.
Hospitals also rely on GP lists to ensure they can write to patients with appointments and results of tests or other information.
If a patient’s contact details are correct, there are a number of straightforward ways for them to confirm, and they will remain on the list as before.
If no reply is received, further checks will be made, and if the patient cannot be found, the process of removing them from the list will begin.
That process will not begin until four weeks after the date on the reminder letter and the GP practice has confirmed that they have not seen that patient recently.
There are numerous failsafe measures to ensure that no patient is removed incorrectly.
Debra Elliott, Director of Commissioning for NHS England South (South Central) said: “Naturally, people change address or move to a different area.
“This can result in GP practice lists being inaccurate and means important information may not reach patients. For this reason we call on everyone who receives a letter to let us know their contact details are correct.
“It’s very straightforward – you can respond by text message, online, or by calling a Freephone telephone number.
“You will be supporting your practice to provide the best possible service to all its patients and ensuring the NHS uses its resources efficiently.”