GPs vote to scrap home visits

GPs in England have voted to change the GP contract, signalling that they will no longer be making home visits because they take up too much time and are “not good medicine”.

Regional GP leaders voted 54 per cent in favour of a proposal put forward at a Kent Local Medicine Committee (LMC) meeting that called for changes to the GP contract to scrap home visits.

The doctor who proposed the motion said that visiting patients at home takes up to three hours a day and is virtually unheard of anywhere else in the world. However, critics of the proposal said it could leave rural, disabled or very ill patients with no means of getting to a surgery at a disadvantage.

In response, Dr Andrew Parkin justified the changes by saying that moving away from routine day-to-day contacts would actually improve care, as patients would benefit from the extra time given to GPs as a result of not having to make long journeys.

However, to plug the potential gap, doctors at the meeting agreed that a separate service should be negotiated for NHS England to provide at-home visits for patients who really need them.

GP waiting times and staffing shortages have been in crisis for a long time and improving patients’ access to family doctors is high on NHS England’s agenda, with all political parties making promises about how they would boost recruitment.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has just announced that he would lift the £1 million tax-free pension ceiling to try to persuade more GPs to work into their 60s because many doctors with unsustainable workloads and pension regulations are retiring at a faster rate than they can be replaced.