The English Community Care Association, a group representing the owners of care homes, says possibly one-third of residents might not receive the full range of GP services to which they are entitled.
Doctors may refuse to visit elderly care home residents, offering a diagnosis over the phone instead (which care home managers claim is unsatisfactory or dangerous). Sometimes homeowners have to pay for enhanced services from GPs, costing thousands of pounds a year. Such “enhanced” services – such as out-of-hours cover – would normally be considered as entitlements provided by the NHS as part of the standard service available to all citizens.
In some areas, people living in care homes do not receive the same services available to people living in the community. Care home owners also complain of sometimes not getting access to many of the support services around primary care, such as physiotherapy and speech and language therapy, which can be important for people who have had strokes, for example.
The recent Care Quality Commission (CQC) report found vulnerable people in care homes sometimes fail to get access to GPs and routine medicines. Only staff at 38% of homes get regular visits from GPs, with one in 10 care homes have to pay GPs to get them to visit their residents.
Goldberg, A. (2012). Care home residents ‘denied basic GP medical services’. London: BBC News, March 11th 2012.