The content of this website is intended for healthcare professionals only

GPs demand home visits are dropped from contract

RCGP agrees home visits take GPs away from seeing more patients in surgery, but are vital for some people

Louise Prime

Tuesday, 12 November 2019

The British Medical Association (BMA) should fight for contract changes so that GPs are no longer obliged to provide home visits to patients, GP leaders from Kent have demanded. Kent Local Medical Committee (LMC) said home visits are “an anachronism” and they argue that the BMA must negotiate a separate acute service for urgent visits. The Royal College of GPs (RCGP) acknowledged that home visits take GPs away from seeing more patients in the surgery, but said it is also vital that patients can access their GP when they need them.

The BMA’s annual conference of England LMC representatives will take place in London on 22 November, allowing 300 or more representatives to debate matters relating to general practice in England. The BMA urged LMCs to propose motions framed around how they want the General Practitioners Committee (GPC) England to deal with the pressures facing general practice, and to propose innovative solutions for debate – rather than focusing on the pressures themselves.

Kent LMC has proposed the motion, scheduled for a half-hour debate at 10:40: “That conference believes that GPs no longer have the capacity to offer home visits and instructs the GPC England 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 RCGP said although GPs are under enormous pressure and working flat out to try to keep up with patient demand, and home visits do take them out of the surgery where they could be seeing more patients, it remains vital that patients who need the skills of a GP can access them.

College chair Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard said this morning: “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.”

She went on: “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.

“Meanwhile, we would urge our patients requesting a home visit to consider very carefully whether they really need one, so that valuable GP time is spent most wisely on those patients who need it most.”

Registered in England and Wales. Reg No. 2530185. c/o Wilmington plc, 5th Floor, 10 Whitechapel High Street, London E1 8QS. Reg No. 30158470