Heath secretary Matt Hancock, has ruled out scrapping home visits by GPs, describing the idea as “a complete non-starter”.
Hancock said he was strongly opposed to the plans and insisted that they would not pass, even though doctors have voted to remove them from their NHS contract.
The change to the GP contract was first proposed by the Kent Local Medical Committee, an independent body which works with the British Medical Association (BMA) to help shape policy.
It argued: “GPs no longer have the capacity to offer home visits” and the BMA’s General Practitioners Committee should renegotiate with the NHS to “remove the anachronism of home visits from core contract work, negotiate a separate acute service for urgent visits, and demand any change in service is widely advertised to patients”.
Under the proposals, GPs would negotiate a separate service for urgent visits to patients.
Explaining why he voted against the initiative, Hancock 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 and it won’t succeed in their negotiations. There is no prospect of this happening.”
Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK has opposed the proposal to scrap home visits. In a statement, she said: “Some frail and vulnerable older people are likely to be alarmed that the future of GP home visits is even being questioned. For older people in this position, knowing that you can call out a GP if you absolutely need one provides a precious feeling of reassurance, even if you never actually have to do it.”
Martin Green, chief executive of Care England, said: "The NHS Long Term Plan is focused on enhancing healthcare input for care home residents including visits from a GP. The recent pronouncements are contrary to our understanding of good practice demonstrated by the NHS Care home vanguard programme”.
He added: “We think the public and relatives of people in care homes would be shocked if GPs took a stance to no longer visit care homes and it flies in the face of national policy and demonstrated good practice. Care homes want to work with GPs and primary and community services more widely as part of an integrated health and social care system putting the individuals needs at the centre.”