Government should act on doctors’ charges to care homes

Posted on June 1st, by geoff in CT blog. 2 comments

By Guest Blogger LEON SMITH

Executive vice president, Nightingale Hammerson

It was heartening to see David Cameron’s enthusiasm for the creation of a system which will allow access to GPs seven days a week – it would be great if Mr Cameron could, at the same time, ensure that in future no care homes are ever charged for receiving the services of GPs.

All care home residents are citizens and have a legal right to receive services from the National Health Service free of charge at the point of delivery, but many doctors seem confused about this and are in the habit of charging care homes for turning up to treat patients. This practice is now so widespread in the care sector that it is fair to say that the vast majority of care homes now pay for GP services. Without such payment, sometimes of very significant amounts, GPs are simply not prepared to turn up.

This cannot be right. There is no reason why one section of the population should be treated any differently from the other. Simply because a number of older people are grouped together in a care home, as opposed to living in the community, does not mean they should be treated as second class citizens.

This practice of charging is one that has spread insidiously over a number of decades, and it needs to be halted. Given that the Government continues to bestow significant largesse to the National Health Service one cannot imagine that the cost of “compensating” GPs for coming into care homes will be a problem. Alternatively, the Government may decide that they simply prefer to instruct GPs that the application of such fees for seeing patients in care home is illegal and must stop forthwith. Either way I will not be holding my breath.

  • The CT Blog is written in a personal capacity – comments and opinions expressed are not necessarily endorsed or supported by Caring Times.

2 responses to “Government should act on doctors’ charges to care homes”

  1. It would be good – and would save NHS resources – if more CCGs were far-sighted enough to fund on-site GP, pharmacy and allied services, as has been the case at Nightingale. There are some heartening examples of this happening elsewhere, or of analogous support, e.g. a Lead Nurse (funded through the NHS) coming in to train care staff in care homes and home care services. But it should be much more commonplace than it is. I suspect that social care providers could make more noise, both locally and nationally, to raise the issue with the NHS and their CCGs.

  2. Martin Green says:

    The issue of GP retainer fees is a scandal which Care England identified in 2007 in the report ” Can we afford the Doctor” and which was confirmed by our re run of the report in 2013

    This is a symptom of an ageist NHS that writes people off when they go into care settings and does not give them access to primary care, and pitifully under funds health needs in care homes

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