Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock warned that removing home visits from the core GP contract was a "complete non-starter", after local medical committees (LMCs) narrowly voted to remove home visits from the agreement.
It was at the 2019 LMC England Conference that the vote to remove home visits from the core GP contract was passed. The change to the GP contact was initially called for by the Kent Local Medical Committee, an independent body that works with the British Medical Association (BMA) to help shape policy. GPs argued that mounting workload and shortages in the workforce had led to a lack of capacity to deliver the home visits.
But Matt Hancock told the BBC Radio 4's "Today" programme that GP home visits would continue. He said: "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". He added that "you do need, sometimes, for the GP to be able to go and see somebody".
The LMCs conference saw 54% of delegates support the motion asking the BMA's General Practitioners' Committee (GPC) to negotiate with NHS England over the proposal.
A separate motion was passed at the conference for the GPC to negotiate an acute service for urgent home visits. A total of 74% of delegates supported this second part of the motion.
However, GPC Contracts Lead Dr Julius Parker suggested that the likelihood of the GPC being able to successfully negotiate such a change to the contract was "extremely low".
Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) Chair Professor Martin Marshall voiced concerns over the vote, saying: "Home visits are a core part of general practice and for some of our more complex and vulnerable patients, they might be the only means of seeing their GP.
"Of course, home visits should be used wisely as they can be time consuming and take GPs away from our surgeries where we could be seeing more patients. But it is vital that patients who need the skills and expertise of a GP are able to access them if they are unable to make arrangements to get to their local surgery."
The passing of the three-part motion means that GPC England will be instructed to negotiate the policy with NHS England in contract settlements.
Last reviewed 27 November 2019