The BMA General Practitioners Committee (GPC) chair Dr Laurence Buckman has requested for Government to look ‘seriously and urgently’ at elderly care in the NHS.
The call comes following a Pulse survey of 362 GPs, which revealed 38% of GPs questioned would not recommend their local care or nursing home hospital to their own family or friends compared with only 26% who would.
GPs expressed concerns about patient care with many highlighting medication errors, bewildered patients and described examples of dangerously poor care. One in ten GPs said that care of patients in care homes was either poor or dangerously poor.
22% of GPs surveyed by Pulse said they believed that some of their patients had received care that has risked their health at the local care or nursing home to their practice.
The survey also suggests standards of patient care in care homes is uneven. Although 41% of GPs said care of patients was good or excellent, this compares with 10% indicating that the care of patients was either poor or dangerously poor.
Dr Andrew Mimnagh, a GP in Sefton, Merseyside gave two examples of dangerously poor care at homes in his area.
He said: ‘We had an example recently that made the local papers. A lady with dementia was regularly accessing the lift. The lift defaulted to the basement. She fell down a flight of stairs and broke her neck and ended up in intensive care and died.’
He added that a local investigation was ongoing about whether the overuse of antibiotics at care homes had led to an outbreak of Clostridium Difficile.
Dr Peter Swinyard, chairman of the Family Doctors Association commented that below par cleanliness and staff speaking a different language were common problems in nursing homes. He added: ‘The present system is a bit broken. Anywhere will do sometimes. We have to remember that this is the patient’s home as well as their place of care.’
Commenting on the survey results Dr Laurence Buckman said:
‘Services for older patients are under mounting pressure as demand rises from an aging population at the same time as budgets across the NHS are contracting.
‘Given this environment it is not surprising that many GPs and patients are concerned about the standard of care older people are receiving, particularly in care homes.