NHS England South has written to patients this month across Bath, Gloucestershire, Swindon and Wiltshire asking them to confirm the contact details held on the GP practice database are correct.

The purpose of this exercise is to make sure GP practice lists are as accurate as possible. Accurate records help patients to receive the support they need from their GP and ensure taxpayers’ money is spent as efficiently as possible.

GP practice lists of NHS patients with their correct, up-to-date address and contact details are essential for making sure patients can be contacted about their healthcare. Surgeries 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.

Naturally, people change address or move to a different area. This can result in our database being inaccurate and means important information may not reach patients.

If patients’ 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 does not begin until reminder letters have been sent 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.

All the GP practices and Clinical Commissioning Groups are working with us on this exercise, which will result in a better service to patients and ensure NHS funding is spent most efficiently.

Debra Elliott, Director of Commissioning at NHS England, South, said:

“It’s really important that GP practices can maintain accurate lists of the patients they serve, and 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.”

The four groups of patients who will be checked are as follows:

  • Men aged 25-55 years
  • People who have not responded to calls and recalls
  • Students aged 22-24 years
  • Immigrants registered longer than 24 months