Many people believe they have a right to a home visit. This is not the case.
Home visits are very inefficient – often three or more patients could be seen in the same time at the surgery. In addition the surgery has high tech equipment, access to help and diagnostic tests and even drugs that can’t be taken out to patients’ homes which means often a patient can be assessed and treated better at the surgery. We generally do not see children at home for this reason.
Please also note that general practice is not an emergency service – we aren’t commissioned to be first responders. In many cases a call to 111, 999 or attendance at A&E is more appropriate. These include: acute chest pain, collapse, acute confusion, and suspected minor injuries.
In a lot of cases a GP might not be the most appropriate person. Often a district nurse, or other allied health professional would be better being the point of contact. They can be contacted direct.
If you are unwell and are genuinely housebound, you can ring and request a visit. Expect this request to be triaged by the reception team who might divert you to a more appropriate service. Being unable to drive is not a reason to request a home visit – there are friends, neighbours and public transport. Similarly the surgery is designed to cope with unwell patients who might be vomiting, or feeling feverish and are potentially infectious – we can often fit people in straight away – meaning you will be seen much faster than waiting for a visit and you will be directed to a side room on arrival where you can be assessed.
Examples of valid requests for home visits are patients in the last stages of life needing palliative care (although these will be pre-planned visits), those in too much pain to move, or the very elderly frail person where moving them might make them worse. To request a visit telephone 01270 275050 before 10.00am Monday to Friday, as this assists in the planning of doctor visits in the early afternoon. For some conditions a visit on another day by a doctor that knows you might be more appropriate than a same day visit.
As stated, you will be asked the details and reason for the visit by the reception team who are trained to handle this and are subject to the confidentiality policy of the practice. Always ensure there is a contact telephone number because the doctor may need to speak with you prior agreeing to visit – always make sure you make sure we have the right address and note that we do not visit patients outside of our practice boundary.
Patients recently discharged from hospital, and who need nursing follow up, will routinely be seen by the district nursing team. Patients in a nursing or care home should liaise with the staff as there are separate arrangements for them.
Visits take place after morning surgery usually between 11:30 and 15:00 and we cannot guarantee a time or any particular doctor though as a practice we try to encourage continuity of care, i.e. sending a doctor that knows you where possible.
Any abuse of this system will not be tolerated – requesting a home visit at a certain time to fit around going out to the hairdresser has been known and is not accepted.
About the author