Many doctors are failing to visit elderly patients in care homes. Instead, they are diagnosing patients over the telephone which care home owners believe is insufficient and dangerous.
The English Community Care Association believes that nearly one third of residents could be missing out on the full range of GP services they are entitled to. Often residents do not get access to support services such as physiotherapy and speech and language therapy, services which are crucial for the primary care of stroke victims. Martin Green of ECCA says care homes complain of not getting visits they have requested. He also maintains that if the quality of care given to service users improved it would relieve the pressure in A&E departments across the country.
In a recent CQC report which looked at 81 care homes across England it was found that only 38% of homes reported they received regular visits from GPs, with one in 10 care homes claiming they had to pay GPs in order for them to visit residents. A third of homes also claimed that they sometimes struggled to get medicines to residents on time. In some cases, home owners pay for enhanced services from GPs, to ensure that service users’ needs are met. The British Medical Association agreed that care provided by GP’s can vary from home to home.
There are more than 400,000 adults in care homes and most of them are elderly. Experts said the findings published in the report were particularly worrying as care home residents were among the most vulnerable patients.
Professor Finbarr Martin, of the British Geriatric Society, said that most of the elderly in care homes were in the final years of life and needed good access to services. The CQC director of operations Amanda Sherlock said that the elderly are a vulnerable group whom appear to be more disadvantaged than the rest of the population in accessing services.