Tell us you’ve seen Call the Midwife? It’s some of the BBC’s finest work. Based on the memoir of Jennifer Worth, the TV series tells the story of life as a district nurse and midwife living and working in London’s East End in the 1950s.
The show is a (albeit dramatised) history lesson on how a modern Western health system was born and a window into a time when doctor house calls were commonplace.
In the show, women give birth in their homes, when the midwives need backup the doctor comes knocking too. If things escalate further, an ambulance is called and the women are transferred to “the London”.
It’s now called The Royal London Hospital. In the 50s, the facility was still new and was the jewel in the crown of the the United Kingdom’s newly established public health system now known as the NHS.
To quote nurse Jenny: “You’ll be transferred to The London where you’ll receive the best healthcare in the world.”
Now, the NHS provides free healthcare to nearly 65 million Britons. The Australian equivalent, Medicare, operates in a similar way and covers all Australian citizens and some visitors.
The growth of modern healthcare systems such as these over recent decades meant that doctor home visits declined. It also meant that services were centralised to clinics and hospitals.
The American National Centre for Policy Analysis said it was a similar story in the USA.
“House calls used to make up 40 per cent of US doctors’ visits in the 1940s. They then went into decline in the 1960s,” it reported.
“These days, they comprise less than 1 per cent of consultations. Many believe that more house calls would increase quality of care at low cost.”
House Call Doctor operates under a scheme introduced by the Federal Health Department. This was designed to bring back access to in-home GP visits.
For patients, it means better access to good healthcare under a bulk-billed arrangement and perhaps a touch of nostalgia for a time when care really was more personal.
Doctor-patient relationship can benefit from home visits
After-hours GP services are different from being able to call your regular doctor who you have a long and trusting relationship with to your bedside, but it’s about access. Knowing a doctor is only a phone call away – at no out-of-pocket cost – is very valuable peace of mind.
The medical community believe the revival of doctor home visits could bring direct benefits to some patient groups including children and the elderly.
American doctor Samantha Ponzer wrote in the Family Practice Management journal that to retrograde further to a time when you could see your regular GP in your home would provide benefits not just to patients but to physicians as well.
“Patients also benefit from their physician seeing the location and conditions in which they live,” she wrote.
“Cleanliness and hygiene can be appreciated, as can the layout of the house. With this information, a physician may be able to identify problems and make suggestions for improvement – suggestions that would never be considered had the physician not been to the patient’s home.
“Doing doctor home visits can also increase your income by generating goodwill.
“Patients today don’t expect their physicians to do house calls; therefore, they appreciate a physician who is willing to come to their home. They are quick to tell their friends and neighbors what a wonderful physician they have.”
Are you in need of an after-hours GP? Call House Call Doctor on 13 55 66 or request a doctor via our app.