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  1. ITV Report

GP proposal to remove home visits from contract 'won't wash', says Health Secretary Matt Hancock

  • Video report by ITV News Reporter Chloe Keedy

Health Secretary Matt Hancock says the plan by GPs to remove home visits from their contract "won't wash", after family doctors said they no longer have the "capacity to offer them."

The majority of GPs supported a proposal to remove home visits from the doctors' key contract, at the Local Medical Committee (LMC) England Conference on Friday.

A local committee of doctors from Kent, an independent body which works with the British Medical Association (BMA) to help shape policy, called for the change to the GP contract.

The body argued that "GPs no longer have the capacity to offer home visits".

But Mr Hancock told ITV News the proposal "is not going to fly."

"Of course GPs still need to do home visits, they don't do that for the majority of cases, but some people are very frail and sometimes a home visit by a GP is necessary," Mr Hancock said.

"The idea you would end GPs doing home visits is not going to fly."

However Jeremy Corbyn said the vote was a "siren call" that funding of the NHS has to increase.

Mr Corbyn added: "The NHS is so unfunded and they are so overstretched, they're saying as a point of desperation they can no longer continue those home visits.

"I think this is a siren call to all of us, that funding of the NHS has to be increased so GPs can undertake those home visits, otherwise it's the most isolated people, who don't have friends who can take them to surgery by car, who will simply not get the visit that they absolutely need."

GPs voted to remove home visits from their core work. Credit: PA

Kent Local Medical Committee said the BMA's General Practitioners Committee (GPC) 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".

After the motion was passed, Kent LMC said it is not attempting to remove home visits entirely, but instead change policy to ensure suitable provision.

The conference also passed a separate motion for the GPC to negotiate an acute service for urgent home visits.

A Kent LMC statement said: "This motion is not intended to remove the ability of GPs to perform home visits. More complex, vulnerable and palliative patients are best served by their GP visiting them when needed.

"Currently there is no universal consistency for patients. Increasing demand and falling GP numbers are further compounding pressures in general practice."

The body said that 26,400,000 general practice appointments took place in September, a rise of 9.7% from the previous year.

"The NHS is in a cycle of transformation. Kent LMC are asking for a home-visiting service that is properly resourced and delivered to our patients," the statement added.

Nikita Kanani, the NHS's national medical director for primary care and a London GP, said when a patient clinically required a GP home visit they would receive one.

"As set out in the NHS Long Term Plan, other healthcare professionals such as nurses and advanced paramedics, will also make home visits if a patient needs one.

"We recognise the pressures that general practice faces, which is why we are investing an extra £4.5bn on local doctors and community services which will help fund 20,000 more staff to support GP practices and offer high quality care for patient."

The passing of the three-part motion at the conference will now instruct GPC England, the part of the BMA which represents English GPs, to negotiate the policy with NHS England in contract settlements.