The Government has said that every care home should have a named clinician by Friday this week, as part of a 50-page plan to ‘rebuild’ amidst the coronavirus epidemic.
In the plan, which is aimed at clarifying the announcement on easing the lockdown made by Prime Minister Boris Johnson yesterday, the Government said that its ‘number one priority for adult social care is infection control during the Covid-19 pandemic’.
As part of this it has highlighed the clinical support that it has asked GP practices to provide, including weekly virtual ward rounds.
The document said: ‘The Government is accelerating the introduction of a new service of enhanced health support in care homes from GPs and community health services, including making sure every care home has a named clinician to support the clinical needs of their residents by 15 May.
‘The NHS is supporting care homes to take up video consultation approaches, including options for a virtual ward.’
Previously, NHS England had said it may bring in ‘regulatory provisions’ to ensure all care homes receive a virtual weekly ward round unless ‘coverage’ is achieved across the country, but there was no mention of a named clinician until a webinar for GPs last Thursday.
A slide presented at the webinar said that the Covid-19 care home support service model ‘should be established as soon as possible, and by 15/05 at the latest’.
It added: ‘To deliver this support, immediate steps need to be taken to support individual practices and community health service teams to organise themselves according to their local areas or networks.
‘As part of this process, networks should identify a named clinical lead for each care home.’
It comes as GPs had been left confused as to whether or not the new care home service formed part of the Primary Care Network (PCN) DES.
Initially, NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens said they would ‘bring forward from October to May 2020 the national roll-out of key elements of the primary and community health service-led Enhanced Health in Care Homes service‘.
However, NHS England medical director for primary care Dr Nikita Kanani later said that the service is not part of the DES for now but is only ‘clinical guidance’.
The BMA’s GP Committee told Pulse it had not been consulted and called on NHS England to reverse the ‘unacceptable’ plans.
Speaking in Thursday’s webinar, NHS England’s primary care medical director Dr Nikki Kanani said: ‘The key components of the support that we’re asking you to offer are the weekly check-in – some way of making sure that your patients or rather the staff who are looking after those residents have a way of contacting you – development of personalised care and support plans and particularly around treatment escalation plans and end of life care plans, and then provision of pharmacy and medication support.
‘You can do this as a practice but it’s going to work really well if you can do this at a PCN level.’