GPs vote to reduce patient home visits

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GPs have voted to reduce visits to patients’ homes, saying they “no longer have the capacity” to offer them.

Doctors supported the proposal at a meeting of English local medical committees in London on Friday.

It means British Medical Association representatives will lobby NHS England to stop home visits being a contractual obligation.

An NHS spokeswoman said GPs would still visit patients at home where there was a clinical need to do so.

A local committee of doctors from Kent brought the three-part motion to the conference, arguing GPs “no longer have the capacity to offer home visits”.

It said representatives from the BMA 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 group added it did not want to completely scrap home visits, as “more complex, vulnerable and palliative patients” were “best served” by GP home visits.

As a result of the three-part motion being passed, the part of the BMA which represents English GPs – GPC England – will be instructed to negotiate the new policy with NHS England.

Nikita Kanani, the NHS’s national medical director for primary care, said GPs and healthcare professionals such as nurses and advanced paramedics would continue to make home visits when patients needed them.

The London GP said an extra £4.5bn was being invested for local doctors and community services, to help fund 20,000 more staff to support GP practices and “offer high quality care for patients”.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock insisted there was “no prospect” of GPs removing their contractual obligations to making home visits.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme it was “right” that most home visits were made by nurses “but sometimes you need a GP”.

He added: “The idea that that [home visits] will be taken out of the GP contract is a complete non-starter.”