NHS England has announced a new initiative which will see GP practices across England paired with care homes.
Each of these surgeries will be expected to conduct weekly rounds, as general practice collaborates more closely with the care home system.
A report to the NHS England board meeting on a new “enhanced health in care homes (EHCH)” model, states that are home residents “are not having their needs properly assessed and addressed”.
They report indicates the recommendation of the healthcare authorities that there should be one-to-one mapping of GP practices to care homes.
This will result in every resident of such homes having a named GP, with the policy being rolled out across the entirety of England.
But GP leaders believe that there are insufficient doctors available to conduct this level of enhanced care, also objecting to the fact that patient choice is effectively been obliterated.
However, the model has already been piloted in six areas, and NHS England is confident that it has been a positive initiative thus far.
The healthcare body asserted that it has already witnessed strong results from its primary care support, including “a reduction in falls, prescribing costs, reduced ambulance conveyances and fewer avoidable admissions”.
Meanwhile, NHS England has indicated that it intends to outline its plan for the national implementation of the model later this year.
The framework published outlines details related to the care home round.
“Wherever possible, there should be one-to-one mapping of GP practices to care homes within an EHCH as this arrangement simplifies care delivery (e.g. through multidisciplinary and interagency working between primary care and care home teams). This arrangement needs to respect patient choice. Each resident should have a named GP to ensure comprehensive assessment, problem identification and care planning”.
Ian Dodge, the National Director for Commissioning Strategy at NHS England, stated that surgeries were actually positive about the arrangement according to early indications.
“We see significant interest across the country in adopting this model and scope for… rapid national rollout… and so later this year we intend to set out plans for national rollout”.
But GPC clinical and prescribing lead Dr Andrew Green believes that the new plan is completely inconsistent with the principle of patient choice.
“The idea of having all the patients in one care home registered with one GP practice rides a coach and horses through the concept of patient choice, and could leave a patient without a functioning doctor/patient relationship”.
Green also believes that there will be resource problems in extending the scheme to the entirety of England.
“The real difficulty here is providing the recourses required, not only in term of money but in terms of staff too. Our 11,000 patient practice has 10 care homes and we would need another partner to deliver this scheme, a partner who simply doesn’t exist, and the workforce implications of this scheme make the promised 5000 extra GPs look rather paltry”.