Last reviewed 19 May 2020

NHS England has written to Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) reminding them that the deadline for identifying a named clinical lead for each CQC-registered care home in their area was 15 May.

As NHS England moves into the "second phase" of its response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the NHS is to ensure that each care home has a named clinical lead to provide better access to clinical advice, including weekly check-ins to review patients and to offer direct support with use of equipment and medication.

The UK Government's 50-page "COVID-19 Recovery Strategy" initially announced that it was accelerating the introduction of a new service of enhanced health support in care homes from GPs and community health services, including making sure every care home has a named clinician to support the clinical needs of their residents by 15 May. It says the NHS is supporting care homes to take up video consultation approaches, including options for a virtual ward. It is available at https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/884760/Our_plan_to_rebuild_The_UK_Government_s_COVID-19_recovery_strategy.pdf.

The named clinical lead may be drawn from general practice or the community health service provider and may be a job share arrangement. They must provide clinical leadership for the primary care and community health services support to the care home and are responsible for the coordination of the service provision set out in a letter dated 1 May to the care home residents.

However, NHS England said medical responsibility for care home residents remains with their registered GP and residents should not be re-registered. In an email bulletin it confirmed that the accountability for the care of individual care home residents also remains with their registered GP. There may be residents with different registered GPs within a care home and NHS England does not expect them to be re-registered.

"Coronavirus (COVID-19): Care Home Support Package", published by the Government on 15 May, makes the commitment that all care homes will be supported through primary and community support by 15 May. It states that there will be proactive support for people living in care homes, including through personalised care and support planning as appropriate; and support for care home residents with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 through remote monitoring, and face-to-face assessment where clinically appropriate, by a multidisciplinary team where practically possible. This is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-support-for-care-homes/coronavirus-covid-19-care-home-support-package.

The NHS will also support the introduction and use of key medical equipment such as pulse oximeters to enable remote monitoring of COVID-19 patients within care homes. Community health improvement teams are also working with primary care and NHSX to roll out video consultations within care homes.

The Government is asking nurses and occupational therapists, who are returning to professional practice to support the COVID-19 response, to step forward to work in social care, particularly those who have past experience in the sector.

NHS England's letter to general practice on identifying a clinical lead is at https://www.england.nhs.uk/coronavirus/wp-content/uploads/sites/52/2020/05/C0508-COVID-19-response-Identifying-a-clinical-lead-for-all-care-homes-12-May-2020.pdf.

A Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) letter sent out advising on requirements in the care home support package is at https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/885214/14_May_2020_-_MSC_letter_-_support_for_care_homes_1.pdf.