Leading GPs call for mandatory home visits to be SCRAPPED because ‘they are too time-consuming’
- GPs currently required to take call-outs when patients ‘too ill’ to come to surgery
- A medical committee wants this stripped out of contract due to time constraints
- It says ambulance service should carry out home visits for less severe patients
Leading doctors are calling for home visits to be scrapped because ‘they are too time consuming’.
Under current rules, GPs are required to take call-outs when patients claim they are too ill to make it to hospital.
Only under special circumstances can doctors refuse these visits, such as if the GP register is full or patients live too far away.
But the Kent arm of the British Medical Association (BMA) is calling for mandatory call-outs to be removed.
It claims home visits are often unnecessary and take up valuable time that could be spent with sicker patients in their surgery.
Leading doctors are calling for the removal of home visits from their contracts because ‘they are too time consuming’ (file)
Local medical committee leaders will vote on a motion on November 22 which asks GP Committee England to negotiate a change.
Kent locum GP Dr Andy Parkin, who put forward the motion, told Pulse Magazine: ‘The main thing is the workload and demand on time in general practice.
‘It’s not to remove the ability to do home visits if GPs want to. If there are truly house-bound patients or palliative care patients, I think GPs should still be able to do that.
‘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.’
WAITING TIMES FOR ROUTINE OPS ON NHS HITS RECORD HIGH
The NHS is on a collision course as it heads into winter with waiting lists for routine operations at an all-time high, experts have warned.
A damning report showed more than 4.41million patients were stuck on waiting lists in England in August – up by 250,000 from last year.
And 662,053 people have waited more than 18 weeks for routine treatments, such as joint replacements – the highest since records began.
Health leaders condemned the figures and said they show the NHS could face its worst winter ever with Brexit, harsh weather conditions and flu on the horizon.
NHS bosses said trusts up and down the country are working ‘incredibly hard’ to prepare for the winter and make sure patients are kept safe.
But the Royal College of Nursing fears more and more patients are going to be treated in corridors as pressure gets piled on the health service.
And the Royal College of Surgeons warned the upcoming winter pressure, Brexit and the NHS pension crisis will create a ‘perfect storm’ for hospitals this winter.
Experts called for ‘swift and far-reaching’ Government action to get the NHS braced for winter.
He said GPs are being required to travel further distances as more patients from further afield register to their practice. The doctor claimed these visits are often hour-round trips.
The motion proposes creating a separate arrangement for poorly patients who require urgent home visits.
Dr Parkin added that, in Kent, there is a home-visiting service run by paramedics and nurses.
Urgent call-outs are referred to them, but ‘they have a limited capacity’ and can only make it to two out of seven requests, the GP said.
It comes amid a GP recruitment crisis which has seen the average wait for an appointment breach the two-week mark for the first time on record.
Health leaders have repeatedly blamed the shortage on increasing work pressures, hefty tax bills and an ageing workforce.
Many GPs are retiring in their 50s, moving abroad or leaving to work in the private sector, prompting a record 138 surgeries to shut in 2018.
It comes after Welsh GPs called for afternoon home visits to be handed over to ambulance services over the weekend. But leaders at the Wales LMCs conference voted it down.
Last Friday, hospitals were urged to offer senior doctors salary top-ups to avoid an NHS crisis this winter.
NHS Improvement, which oversees how NHS trusts are run, wants hospitals chiefs in England to adhere to guidance brought in amid the pensions fiasco.
It says all hospitals should be giving cash to doctors who have quit the retirement scheme out of fear of high tax rates on their pensions.
The arrangement would mean doctors don’t lose out on employer’s contributions, which are worth 20.6 per cent of the pensionable salary.
But data obtained through Freedom of Information requests show the majority of hospitals are not offering the flexible pension policy.
The Hospital Consultants and Specialists Association (HCSA) sent a request to all 153 acute trusts and foundation trusts.
Of the 108 which responded, just 10 trusts had a pension recycling policy, reports the Financial Times.
The HCSA has now said hospitals should be forced to offer cash payments, which are currently a voluntary policy.
This would be in lieu of employer pension contributions that they are no longer receiving – currently worth 20.6 per cent of their salary.