GP victory as scheme to reduce out-of-hours home visits withdrawn

A scheme to reduce out-of-hours home visits by GPs in Norfolk has been withdrawn amid complaints from GPs.

Many out-of-hours providers across the UK such as On Call Care in Kent and Urgent Care 24 in Liverpool are now monitoring the number of home visits GPs carry out and the proportion of calls GPs can resolve over the telephone.

But the East of England Ambulance Service's restrictions on which patients were eligible for home visits meant elderly patients in Norfolk were forced to travel to an out-of-hours care centre.

The NHS Alliance defended performance management of out-of-hours GPs. A spokesman said comparing the numbers of referrals for prescribing decisions and home visits was an important way to ensure patients receive high quality care.

But restrictions put in place to reduce Norfolk's higher than average number of out-of-hours home visits had been withdrawn amidst complaints, said Norfolk LMC medical secretary Dr Simon Lockett.

‘It was very prescriptive. They were taking away the freedom to make concessions for certain visits,' he said.

The guidance stated that patients should only be seen at home if they have symptoms such as chest pain and breathing difficulties.

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