Tuesday 12 November 2019 6:12 AM UTC
LONDON Nov 12: 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.
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.’
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.
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