Call for doc­tors to make house vis­its again

Cape Argus - - METRO - MARVIN CHARLES [email protected]

THERE was a time when doc­tors would make house calls, but with the in­crease in pop­u­la­tion and de­crease in health prac­ti­tion­ers, house vis­its have be­came im­pos­si­ble. Now there has been a re­newed call for house vis­its to re­turn.

A health­care plat­form has re­cently been es­tab­lished to help with fa­cil­i­tat­ing and book­ing home health care. But the ques­tion is whether the coun­try can af­ford it and whether it has enough health prac­ti­tion­ers to do house vis­its.

Founder of Char­iot Health, Cameron Bruce, said: “I re­ally sup­port this call be­cause it’s my work and I en­joy what I do. I en­joy tak­ing care of peo­ple and bring­ing care into peo­ple’s homes.”

Bruce said he be­lieved house vis­its had a place in the coun­try.

“Pa­tients should be as­sisted to live the type of life they want. In­stead of go­ing to hos­pi­tal, they could choose to live and be treated at home and be al­lowed to make choices be­tween things they still want to do in their lives and where and how they should be treated,” he said.

Char­iot Health has six doc­tors and six nurses and does about 20 house vis­its a day. It op­er­ates in var­i­ous parts of Cape Town. “Char­iot Health’s aim is to cre­ate a seam­less in­for­ma­tion and com­mu­ni­ca­tion por­tal be­tween all play­ers who are or could be­come in­volved with a pa­tient – ex­tend­ing from his or her bed­side – from care­givers to emer­gency ser­vices to hos­pi­tals,” Bruce said.

But med­i­cal con­sul­tants were con­cerned. They said there were not enough health prac­ti­tion­ers to do health vis­its.

“Un­for­tu­nately we do not have enough re­sources for doc­tors to do house calls. A doc­tor do­ing house calls can see maybe 8 to 10 pa­tients a day, but they can see 30 to 40 in their pri­vate prac­tice rooms.

Health con­sul­tant Jo­hann Ser­fontein said: “It is not ef­fi­cient. The pro­posal in Na­tional Health In­sur­ance is for low-level health work­ers to do home vis­its. That makes sense be­cause they can iden­tify the pres­ence of ill­ness and re­fer pa­tients to doc­tors or nurses.

“It is dif­fi­cult for pri­vate GPs to make a liv­ing from home vis­its be­cause med­i­cal-aid schemes are not will­ing to pay them enough to do so.

“They would need to earn the same hourly rate they would get in their rooms be­cause the over­heads in your rooms con­tinue while you are out do­ing home vis­its. T

“They could do it at a lower rate if they don’t have rooms at all and there­fore have lower over­head costs, but there are not many doc­tors in such a po­si­tion,” he said.

Chair­per­son of the South African Med­i­cal As­so­ci­a­tion, An­gelique Coet­zee, said: “What we have to re­alise is that we don’t have enough med­i­cal doc­tors to do house vis­its and you have to con­sider the costs in­volved be­cause at the end who will carry those costs.”

She said it could also be dan­ger­ous for doc­tors to go to the homes of pa­tients be­cause of crime.

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