A new move is under way to remove home visits from the GP core contract, it has been revealed.
Doctors have tabled a proposal that would require a new acute service to be established to provide home visits, similar to existing out of hours services. The proposal is to go to the conference of local medical committees later this month – but in the past similar proposals have been rejected.
The proposers say that GPs now have longer to travel for home visits as practices have been consolidated – and primary care networks are leading to more centralisation of work.
The proposal, from Kent local medical committee, describes the commitment to home visits as an “anachronism” and calls for negotiation of a new service for urgent visits. Locum GP Dr Andrew Parkin, who has led the proposal, said Kent had a home visiting service run by paramedics and nurses – but they only accounted for two out of seven visits.
He told Pulse magazine: “The key thing is to remove the expectation that home visits are a part of general practice. They are the most time-consuming part of the job; they are one of the most litigious parts of the job. Even trying to triage visits causes a lot of aggravation from patients who ring up and want a visit and don’t need a home visit.
“With the GP footprint getting wider from PCNs and mergers, visits can be a long way away. They can take an hour to go and get back. There isn’t that free time in general practice anymore.”
Royal College of GPs chair Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard said: “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.”