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Hancock rejects GP vote to remove home visits from contracts

‘There is no prospect of this happening,’ says health secretary

Peter Stubley
Saturday 23 November 2019 20:50 GMT
Health secretary Matt Hancock said the proposal was a ‘complete non-starter’
Health secretary Matt Hancock said the proposal was a ‘complete non-starter’ (EPA)

Matt Hancock has ruled out scrapping home visits by GPs, describing the idea as “a complete non-starter”.

Doctors argued that they were no longer able to provide home visits as part of their core work and voted at a conference on Friday to remove them from their NHS contract.

Under the proposals GPs would negotiate a separate service for urgent visits to patients.

However, the health secretary said he was strongly opposed to the plans and insisted that they would not come to fruition.

“The idea that people shouldn’t be able, when they need it, to have a home visit from a GP is a complete non-starter and it won’t succeed in their negotiations,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

He admitted that most home visits were done by nurses but said that on some occasions a GP was needed.

Pushed on whether his view could change, Mr Hancock added: “There is no prospect of this happening.”

He later told Sky News’s Sophy Ridge On Saturday that the idea “won’t fly” and claimed a Conservative government would fund, train and hire 6,000 more GPs over five years.

The change to the GP contract was proposed by the Kent Local Medical Committee (LMC), an independent body which works with the British Medical Association (BMA) to help shape policy.

It argued that “GPs no longer have the capacity to offer home visits” and 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, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn described it as a “siren call” that NHS funding must be increased.

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.”

Additional reporting by Press Association

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