GPs conference to debate removing home visits from usual workload

GPs no longer have the capacity to offer home visits and a separate arrangement is needed for patients, doctors have said.

Kent local medical committee (LMC), an independent body which works with the British Medical Association (BMA) to help shape policy, is calling for a change to the GP contract so that home visits are no longer seen as part of core work.

In a motion to be debated at a forthcoming LMC conference on November 22, Kent LMC said a vote must be passed that says “GPs no longer have the capacity to offer home visits”.

It says the BMA’s general practitioners committee should renegotiate with the NHS to “remove the anachronism of home visits from core contract work, negotiate a separate acute service for urgent visits, and demand any change in service is widely advertised to patients.”

The move was reported by Pulse magazine.

The current GP contract outlines other healthcare professionals such as physician associates and advanced paramedic practitioners to undertake home visits once they are recruited, Pulse said.

Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard (pictured), chairwoman of the Royal College of GPs, said: “GPs and our teams are under enormous pressure and are working flat out to try and keep pace with rising patient demand.

“We have a severe shortage of GPs and many practices are having to make very difficult decisions about where best to allocate their time and resources in order to deliver the maximum benefit for their patients.

“Home visits can be very time consuming and take the GP away from the surgery when they could be seeing other patients, and where there are far better facilities to properly assess patients.

“But for some of our more complex and vulnerable patients, home visits are an invaluable, and often the only, means of seeing their GP.

“We are very supportive of proposals to train other members of the GP team such as physician associates and advanced paramedics to carry out home visits as appropriate, but they are not a substitute for GPs and it is vital that patients who need the skills of a GP are able to access them.

“Ultimately, this proposal will be for the BMA, as the doctors’ union, to decide, but it would need a lot of consideration and any changes would need to be widely and sensitively communicated to patients.”

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