GP practices are being encouraged to do any outstanding medicals for prospective adoptive parents or foster carers.
In a joint statement, the BMA and RCGP said that while the requirement for GP practices to continue to offer health assessments comes at a time when GPs are focused on the pandemic and vaccination, ‘they are necessary to maintain sufficient safe placements for vulnerable children’.
Temporary arrangements were introduced by the Government to create more flexibility in the system and allow health assessments to be accepted at any part of the process to approve a potential adoptive parents or foster carers.
As the pandemic continues to put pressure on services, the arrangements have been extended to September 2021, the BMA and RCGP said.
But a final decision cannot be made without a health assessment and some prospective adopters and carers have postponed as long as possible are are now only waiting for their medical report.
‘The temporary regulations do not remove the need for medical reports as they still must be obtained before the relevant agency can come to a decision on the suitability of the prospective adopters and foster carers,’ the joint statement said.
‘These medical assessments are an important safeguard for both the adults and the children, and they are a statutory requirement.
‘A final decision cannot be made without a medical report being obtained and considered as part of the suitability assessment.’
The statement said the numbers affected were relatively small but the impact on both adults and children was considerable.
‘The RCGP and the BMA recognise that the requirement for GP practices to continue to offer adult health assessments for these patients is pressure on an already stretched service.
‘However, they are necessary to maintain sufficient safe placements for vulnerable children. We would like to encourage GP practices to undertake these assessments where possible.’
The news comes as the BMA’s GP Committee chair told Pulse last week that BMA and RCGP workload advice for GP practices, which says they can ‘pause’ non-essential work, ‘remains relevant’ going into April.