Campaigners raised concerns the mega database compromised patients' privacy
Campaigners raised concerns the mega database compromised patients' privacy

Scottish NHS patients won't have to see local GP when needing urgent care, review concludes

A move towards contact by phone or online will be encouraged, as review warns current system is 'not sustainable'

Chris Green
Scotland Editor
Monday 30 November 2015 19:23

Patients in Scotland will not have to see their local GP when they need urgent care in the future, according to a review of the country’s NHS out-of-hours services which warned that the current system is “not sustainable”.

People who are ill should not have to see their local doctor or even attend a face-to-face appointment if their medical issues can be dealt with online or over the phone instead, the review commissioned by the Scottish Government said.

It added that in the future GPs will no longer be viewed as the “default healthcare professional” for people who need urgent care, proposing a new system which relies on multi-disciplinary teams working together at “resource hubs” across the country.

Scotland’s Health Secretary, Shona Robison, said the review’s 28 recommendations would provide a framework for the Government to transform primary care services, which are under increasing strain as a result of the country’s ageing population.

The independent review, chaired by Professor Sir Lewis Ritchie, said the current condition of Scotland’s out-of-hours NHS services was “fragile” and “not sustainable”, warning that the situation would worsen unless more GPs could be recruited in the short term.

The review has called the current condition of Scotland’s out-of-hours NHS services “fragile” and “not sustainable”

“People seeking urgent help and advice need to be seen by the right professional, at the right time and in the right place – which might be face to face either physically or remotely, by telephone or video link,” the review said.

“Traditionally, clinical advice and assessment has usually been delivered by GPs face-to-face. In the future, health and care needs will be delivered by the most appropriate member of a multidisciplinary team in person, or remotely – according to need and circumstances.”

It recommended that an “enhanced capacity, multi-disciplinary out-of-hours workforce” should be rapidly built up to relieve the pressure on existing services. The teams would include GPs, nurses, physiotherapists, community pharmacists, social care and other specialists.

The Scottish Government said it had made £1m of funding available immediately to fast-track the testing of the new urgent care model. A detailed response to the review’s recommendations and a national implementation plan will be announced in the spring.

“Our NHS is facing different demands from those of a decade ago and we need to ensure all parts of the system work as effectively as possible to support an ageing population and more people with more complex, multiple conditions,” Ms Robison said, calling for a “whole-team, community-based care approach” to transform the health system.

The review’s other recommendations included developing a set of national standards for urgent out-of-hours care, improving patient record systems and technology and offering newly qualified GPs a one year post involving out-of-hours work.

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