The GP professional body has rejected calls to remove home visits from the general practice contract, warning they are a “core” part of practice work.
The conference of local medical committees has backed a call for visits to be removed from the contract. It has proposed that an additional visiting service should be established, similar to the out of hours GP services that are now run separate from general practice. GPs at the conference described home visits as an “anachronism.”
The Royal College of GPs indicated that it would oppose such a move – although it accepted that the British Medical Association would negotiate the GP contract. There was little sign of the government agreeing to such changes, with immediate rejection from the current health secretary Matt Hancock, who described it as a “complete non-starter.”
The college’s incoming chair Professor Martin Marshall said: “Home visits are a core part of general practice and for some of our more complex and vulnerable patients, they might be the only means of seeing their GP. Of course, home visits should be used wisely as they can be time consuming and take GPs away from our surgeries where we could be seeing more patients. But it is vital that patients who need the skills and expertise of a GP are able to access them if they are unable to make arrangements to get to their local surgery.
“General practice is under enormous pressure at present and we have a severe shortage of GPs, so 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.”