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Virtual care home rounds ‘not part of DES for now’, says NHS England

The call for practices to conduct virtual care home rounds announced this week is not part of the DES for now but is only ‘clinical guidance’, NHS England has said.

NHS England said earlier this week that it was ‘bringing forward’  the roll-out of the primary care network DES’s Enhanced Health in Care Homes service.

However last night, the NHS England director of primary care claimed that this requirement remains separate to the DES for the moment. 

Pulse understands that the Network DES funding will be separate from doing these virtual ward rounds until October, when it will officially become part of the DES. 

Speaking in a live webinar last night, Dr Nikki Kanani said that the request is ‘outside of the care home DES or the PCN DES’.

She added: ‘We know that the DES doesn’t start until October.

‘We recognise that and we’re not trying to force it through or put it in in a way that’s not right or tolerable but [give you] some clinical guidance that if in your patch you are not able to currently support your care homes, we might be able to find a way through getting more support to you [or], more resources.’

An NHS England spokesperson said: ‘Although the coronavirus pressures on primary care have been different from those affecting intensive care doctors and nurses and hospitals, GPs are just as committed as every other part of the Health Service to go ‘above and beyond’ in supporting vulnerable people in the biggest global health emergency in a century.

‘Although practices report that GP consultations are sharply down, practices are stepping up in other ways including supporting older people living in care homes. These are vulnerable patients who are clearly are in need of the extra support which practices can – and are – helping with.’

It contradicts NHS England’s letter published earlier this week which said that it 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.’

Meanwhile, the BMA’s GP Committee called on NHS England to reverse ‘unacceptable’ plans for GPs to do weekly ‘virtual rounds’ in care homes from May.


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