Doctor Max Pemberton, a mental health specialist who writes a regular medical column for the Daily Mail, says he is “absolutely incandescent” at a vote by GPs to withdraw visits to care homes for the elderly.
The vote took place at an emergency meeting called by doctors’ trade union the British Medical Association, and is widely thought to have been a tactic to put pressure on health chiefs looking at reforming GP contracts.
Dr Pemberton responded with fury. “It’s an outrageous step. And as a psychiatrist who’s specialised in care of the elderly and knows how badly the system already fails them, I’m absolutely incandescent,” he writes.
“Residents of these homes desperately need GPs on their side — not just because they have multiple, often complex, medical problems, but because visits by doctors are our best hope of preventing neglect and abuse,” Dr Pemberton adds.
“It strikes me as insane that if you are an elderly person still living in your own house or flat, and fit enough to get to the surgery, you can see your GP with reassuring regularity.
“Yet the minute you are frail enough to need to enter a care home, the attention you receive plummets. All too often, the doctor just pops round for a quick check-in with matron and doesn’t meet the residents at all,” Dr Permberton continues.
The brutal truth is that GPs feel emboldened to vote for this because they know that the frail and elderly residents of nursing homes aren’t going to kick up a fuss. They are voiceless and powerless. Picking on the vulnerable elderly is as cowardly as it is cruel,” he concludes.