This was the Daily Mail’s headline on 1 February 2016. At the Special LMC conference 2016 held on 30 January, GP’s voted to end their responsibility for the care of patients permanently residing in care homes.
By their very nature, care homes are occupied by frail, vulnerable adults with complex health needs. They are rarely able to attend the GP surgery to access medical services, instead requiring visits to the home. Doctors say they are no longer able to provide this care under the current health system and are seeking removal of this responsibility from their contracts.
What are they suggesting as an alternative? That doctors should be retained to provide care privately. This will have a ‘knock-on’ effect on cost, which according to the BBC is costing some care homes up to £20,000 a year to secure regular visits from a GP. This will then have an effect on the cost of care which, unless in very limited circumstances, falls to the individual.
What is the solution? There are many great projects being piloted around the country, with the intention of improving care for the elderly and vulnerable, and no doubt the voices of the individuals benefitting from these are positive.
However, without good integration of social and health care (a fundamental tenet of the Care Act 2014) then these issues are not going to go away.
We are all living longer – but not living well longer. If end of life decisions are taken early – with proper planning, then the road can be less difficult to travel. Reviewing your powers of attorney and advance decisions won’t solve the so-called ‘care crisis’, but perhaps it can make it a little more palatable.
If you or an elderly relative need advice regarding access to health or social care provision then contact a member of our Elderly Care team.
If you are concerned about the quality of medical treatment given to you or a relative, contact a member of our Medical Negligence Team.
Members of our Elderly Client and Clinical Negligence Teams will be presenting sessions at our forthcoming seminar on 3 March 2016 – for further details contact firstname.lastname@example.org.