During a live webinar on Thursday (30 April), NHS England primary care medical director Dr Nikki Kanani said it wanted GPs to look at 'elements' of the enhanced health in care homes service specification, which was originally due to be implemented in October as part of this year's PCN DES.
However, she said: 'We want to do this outside of the PCN DES'.
'What we want to do is support practices who are already doing this. But we do know of care homes that aren't getting any clinical input at all,' Dr Kanani said.
'We know that the DES doesn't start until October. We're not trying to force it through or put it in, in a way that isn't right or honourable, [but give] clinical guidance that if, in your patch, you are not able to currently support your care homes, we might be able to find a way through getting more support to you, and more resources.'
She said that practices should receive a letter in the coming days explaining exactly what NHS England expected them to do with regards to care homes.
Funding for practices
Dr Kanani said the letter would explain 'the sort of things we'd like to see' and set out 'how we'll make sure that the funding follows what you do'.
'We're not at all saying do stuff without funding, we recognise that that is not sensible,' she added.
On 29 April, NHS England chief executive Sir Simon Stevens wrote to all NHS organisations setting out plans for the second phase of the NHS response to COVID-19. Among the priorities for general practice was that GPs should deliver weekly 'virtual care home rounds'.
'The NHS will bring forward from October to May 2020 the national roll out of key elements of the primary and community health service-led enhanced health in care homes service,' the letter said.
Yesterday the BMA said that any plans to fast track elements of the PCN DES without consultation would be 'unacceptable'. BMA GP committee chair Dr Richard Vautrey said that the BMA had not been consulted about the proposals and added that the plans set out in the DES 'depended on an expanded workforce and additional resources'.
Support for care homes
During the live webinar on Thursday, Dr Kanani said that NHS England would set out what it believed reflected good practice with regards to looking after care homes in its forthcoming letter.
She said access to clinical advice was important and that this could be 'virtual check-ins where they've got the tech' or over the telephone.
'Some people are proactive on a daily basis. Some people do that once a week,' Dr Kanani said. 'We're not again sitting here saying that you need to do it in a particular way. We just want to make sure that care homes get the medical or clinical input. We recognise that there's other things that need to happen in the wider system as well.
'We want to start to offer more proactive support for people living in care homes, including through support planning where it's appropriate. A lot of advance care planning does not have to be done by the GP, it can be done by care home teams, or multidisciplinary team where that exists – where it doesn't we need to put some support into place for you.
'We want to try and get a good offer for care home residents as soon as possible.'