GPs have voted to permanently change NHS-funded care home visits across the UK, seeking to remove the visits from GPs’ regular contract duties.
The change is likely to affect over 300,000 elderly care home residents, who are currently entitled to routine GP check-ups once or twice a week. It could result in a dearth of immediately available medical professionals, as well as a hike in fees if care homes bring in private medical staff.
The vote plans to allow GPs to opt out of care home visits altogether: the BMA suggests the support role should be picked up by new teams of hospital doctors and nurses. GP leaders argue that care home residents often have highly complex needs beyond their practices’ capacity, taking up a disproportionate amount of time, when in the past, they would have been cared for in hospital.
300 GPs representing major regional healthcare bodies voted in favour of the move, with the BMA set to lobby the government in advance of new contracts being drafted later on this month.
The move has been condemned by campaigners for the elderly, such as Age UK who state that “older people in care homes are just as entitled as anyone else to good NHS treatment… many are frail and unwell.”
Continuity of care is one major concern that has been raised by campaigners, as it is likely that unfamiliar locum staff will fill in for local GPs, disrupting the build-up of comprehensive knowledge of a person’s medical requirements.
Fiona Lowry, our CEO, commented: “We believe that everyone should have access to the standard of care required to lead a healthy and dignified life. Good Care Group’s highly trained, live-in staff are trained to monitor and mitigate medical conditions over time, reducing reliance on NHS services. Evidence shows our Falls Management programme resulted in a 97% reduction in incidents over nine months, while our proactive approach to avoidable conditions such as urinary tract infections has significantly reduced the need for health professionals’ intervention, enabling your loved ones to live in their own homes with greater safety and happiness.”