A General Practitioner (or GP) provides what is called primary care. This means they are normally one of the first people you see if you have a health issue that isn’t an emergency. In some cases they can tell you what’s the matter and prescribe appropriate treatment themselves. In others they might refer you to secondary care providers such as a hospital for tests and/or treatment.

Anyone can see a GP, but you need to register with a GP surgery to get an appointment. Registration is free.

Many GPs only accept patients who live in the local area. Search the Find A GP service on the NHS website to find a GP practice close to you. Our Feedback Centre also lets you read reviews of GP surgeries in Birmingham by other local people.

Once you have found a suitable GP surgery accepting new patients, you’ll need to fill in a registration form. These can normally be downloaded from the NHS Find A GP service or the GP surgery’s own website. You can also get a paper form from the GP surgery you want to register with.

Find answers to some common questions about registering with a GP below or on the NHS website. You can also contact our free and confidential Information & Signposting service on 0800 652 5278 or info@healthwatchbirmingham.co.uk if you have questions about registering with a local GP surgery.

Do I need proof of address to register with my GP?

NHS guidelines state that you don’t need proof of address, immigration status, ID or an NHS number to register with a GP. However, some GP surgeries ask for supporting documentation as it can:

  • Help the surgery find your medical records or transfer them from another practice.
  • Confirm that you live in the surgery’s practice area if they do not accept patients from outside this area.
  • If you do not have a permanent address. you can still register using a temporary address or the address of the GP surgery.

Do I need identification to register with my GP?

You do not have to provide an ID when registering with a GP, but it does help. Below is a list of documents that you can use as ID: 

  • Passport
  • Birth certificate
  • Biometric residence permit
  • Travel document
  • HC2 certificate
  • ARC card
  • Utility bill

What could stop me from being able to register at my GP?

A GP must explain why they refuse your request to register in writing. The GP has the right to refuse if: 

  • The practice isn’t currently accepting new patients. 
  • The practice only accepts patients living within its practice area. 

I want to change my GP practice; do I have to give a reason?

No, you don’t have to tell your practice why you want to change or your new one why you made that decision. 

You’ll need to fill in a registration form. A request will then be made to your current GP for your medical records to be transferred to the new GP surgery. 

Read more information on registering with a practice further away from your residence.

Registering as a temporary patient

You can register with a GP practice as a temporary patient. You can register as a temporary resident with a GP surgery for up to three months. To register, you must fill out a temporary services form (GMS3) from GP surgeries.

After three months, you must reapply to register as a temporary resident or become a permanent patient.

Can I see a GP if I’m away from home?

If you become unwell or need other medical treatment when you’re on holiday or otherwise away from home, you can 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.

You can also visit an NHS urgent treatment centre, which can provide treatment for minor injuries or illnesses such as cuts, bruises and rashes.

However, they are not designed for treating long-term conditions or life-threatening problems. You do not need an appointment, and you do not need to be registered.

NHS services

Getting a referral

When you need specialist NHS support, like hospital tests or treatment, you often need a referral from your GP first. 

Find out more

Getting urgent or emergency care

If you need quick help for a medical problem, there are different routes depending on whether the issue is an emergency or urgent.

Find out more

How do I get a dentist appointment?

Many people are struggling to get dentist appointments.

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How a pharmacy can help

Pharmacists are qualified healthcare professionals who can offer clinical advice and over-the-counter medicines for various minor illnesses.

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Using the NHS app

You can access a range of NHS services from your smartphone, tablet and other devices using the NHS app.

Find out more

Getting an NHS interpreter

It is your right to have a professional interpreter help you at every stage of your healthcare journey.

Find out more