Could Removing GP Home Visits Be For the Better?

Recent news articles have been reporting on the GPs vote at the Conference of England Local Medical Committee (LMC). The main vote that has gained media attraction is Motion Numer 9, which is the removal of contractual obligations for home visits, which was voted in favour by 54%. 

Nearly 500 representatives from across the country had convened to share their thoughts, experiences and opinions of the current state of general practices and what the future holds. 

There were over 300 motions debated and discussed ranging from the chronic shortage of medications to patient safety being affected by the limited service NHS staff can deliver to meet the ever-increasing demand. With GP’s workload consistently growing, they voted for motion 9 to remove home visits from their obligations as GP’s no longer have the capacity. This motion will instruct GPC England to:

  •   Remove the anachronism of home visits from core contract work
  •   Negotiate a separate acute service for urgent visits
  •   Demand any change in service needs to be widely advertised to patients.

There has been a lot of media backlash in regards to this topic, however many of these articles failed to acknowledge the balanced debate that took place and how many GPs did struggle with the passing of this motion. 

There was a clear argument for voting for this motion; to save GP’s valuable time and create a more efficient system that is properly funded. This motion does not mean that home visits will be scrapped entirely but instead have a dedicated service that will run home visits to those that are housebound, this dedicated team will include both nurses and GPs. This creates a more efficient service, as it prevents GPs from having to urgently leave their practice, impacting a large number of patients for just one visit, improving the overall level of patient care. 

Dr Abdullah, practicing GP and Founder of Medicalchain gives an honest insight into his vote:

“The vote was a very difficult debate and an extremely lengthy process. Many GP gave speeches expressing their opinion, both against and for the motion. For some GPs, they see it as vital to see those who need it most, whilst others in areas that cover large geographical areas struggle to reach patients. However, everyone was in agreement that general practice as a whole is breaking down and unless serious funding is given to the system, then we will lose a lot more than home visits”

However, motions like these do drive conversation around possible new solutions that can be implemented to make operations more efficient. Innovative digital solutions are being developed to aid doctors to reach as many patients as possible. For example, many telemedicine-based apps are being created that allows doctors to video calls patients and treat them over the phone. This can save doctors valuable time and allows them to treat a greater volume of patients, reducing patients’ waiting time. 

The removal of home visits from contractual obligations could lead to a more efficient system that provides patients with a better level of care. A well-funded dedicated service will mean those who are most vulnerable are being catered for whilst practices continue to operate and treat patients that are able to visit.