A clinical lead is now in place for 100% of care homes in England after a ‘record’ uptake from general practice, NHS England has said.
Earlier this month, it mandated that all care homes should have a named clinician by the 15 May, as part of the support practices have been asked to provide to care homes during the coronavirus pandemic.
NHS England has now confirmed that 100% of the 15,000 operational CQC-registered care homes had an identified clinical lead by the 17 May.
National clinical director for older people and integrated person-centred care Adrian Hayter said: ‘We’re really pleased to note that that general practice response has been record in its uptake over the last couple of weeks and we’ve had 100% of care homes being provided with a named clinical lead.
‘Many of those clinical leads have been doing lots of work already in the care homes but they’re going to be building [on that] and supporting the care homes with that weekly check-in.’
Speaking in a GP webinar, Mr Hayter added that although there has been ‘some debate’ about the length of virtual check-ins, these could range from 15 minutes to an hour.
He said: ‘It should be matched to the size and needs of the home. For a large home, it’s going to take an hour or so to be able to do some of that check-in whereas for a smaller home with relatively few patients it may only be a 15 minute check-in once a week.’
Meanwhile, GPs were told that they can use their ‘preferred’ video solution for the digital ward rounds, including Whatsapp or Facebook.
Dr Matt Hoghton, clinical advisor for digital primary care at NHS X, said that his team are ‘normally using either Accurx on the phone or Facebook facetime or whatsapp messenger’.
Draft guidance on deterioration in care home residents with Covid-19 has just been through the academy of royal colleges for approval and will be published soon, NHS England added.
In April, practices were told to start virtual weekly care home rounds from this month as NHS England moved into the ‘second phase’ of its response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
And it clarified this week that GPs will be expected to monitor care home patients with Covid-19 face to face as well as remotely under the new support service.
This comes as there has been some confusion regarding the contractual status of the service, as well as funding.
NHS England initially linked it to the PCN DES, by saying key parts of it were being brought in early, but later said it was not part of the DES, only clinical advice at this time.
But it then added that if universal coverage of care homes was not achieved across the country, ‘regulation’ may be brought in.
With regards to funding, NHS England has said GPs will be reimbursed for any ‘additional’ resources required to support care homes via the General Practice Covid Support Fund.
GPs had also been concerned about the nature of the clinical lead role, prompting NHS England to clarify that they will not be held ‘medically responsible and accountable’ for residents.