The Registered Nursing Home Association (RNHA) has expressed concern at a motion passed last week-end by BMA’s special conference of Local Medical Committees to change the basis on which GPs provide services to care home residents.
Said RNHA chief executive officer Frank Ursell: “The statement issued by the BMA makes it sound as though GPs are being routinely called upon to provide the highly specialised treatment that hospital consultants and their teams should be providing.
“That is not how we, in the care home sector, see it. Moving into a care home because their overall health and well-being requires them to do so should not deny our residents access to the full range of primary care services they would otherwise receive if they were still at home.”
He added: “In the vast majority of cases, GPs visit care homes to deal with the kinds of problems they would deal with if that person lived at home. Yes, our residents are generally frail and elderly. Yes, they have multiple health conditions. But they would ordinarily be treated by GPs for those conditions whether they lived in the care home or not.
“Professionally, I cannot see what the big fuss is about. If one of our residents has an underlying health condition that deteriorates beyond the point where primary care can deal with it, that person is likely to be admitted to hospital for specialist treatment and stabilisation.
“The same would happen if they were still living at home. Why should GPs approach the problem differently simply because the individual is living in a care home rather than in their own house, bungalow or flat? And the fact that they are living in a care home, with 24-hour nursing support in the case of those with a nursing registration, means that they are often less likely to need to call out a GP compared with being at home.”
Mr Ursell concluded: “There is a major risk that care home residents may be getting caught up in the wider struggle between the BMA and the government about pay. I and my colleagues in the sector call upon GPs not to allow their arguments with the government over other issues to get in the way of providing essential primary care services to the people who need them, whether they live in a care home or not.”