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Chamber and committees

Health, Social Care and Sport Committee


Alternative pathways into primary care

Background

The Health, Social Care and Sport Committee is undertaking an inquiry about the different ways patients access healthcare services in Scotland.

Primary care services provide the first point of contact in the healthcare system, acting as the ‘front door’ of the NHS. When a person seeks healthcare their first point of contact is usually with a general practitioner (a GP, or family doctor). Our inquiry, however, is focused on other sources of healthcare that exist in the community, which we term ‘alternative’ pathways.

Our inquiry, however, is focused on other sources of healthcare that exist in the community, which we term ‘alternative’ pathways. These include:

  • seeing a different ‘health practitioner’ who works in the GP practice or in the local community, examples of which include:
  • physiotherapists
  • nurses
  • podiatrists
  • being directed to other types of support, sometimes referred to as social prescribing, to improve health and wellbeing which could include:
  • walking groups
  • community groups
  • advice
  • volunteering
  • using telephone helplines or websites to access additional information or online therapy.

This inquiry intends to explore how alternative pathways are being accessed and used in primary care. It also seeks to identify key issues and opportunities for improvement.

Your views

There are two ways to share your views on this subject with the Committee.

A survey has been issued to ask people about their experience of using these alternative pathways. 

A more detailed consultation asks a series of questions, including:

  1. What is the current level of awareness amongst health practitioners and patients of the availability of alternative pathways to healthcare services other than seeing a GP?
  2. How good is the signposting between general practice and other primary healthcare professionals? To what extent are GPs equipped with the information they need to make onward referrals? To what extent are GP practice receptionists equipped to signpost patients to the most appropriate service?
  3. What is the level of public awareness of options to self-refer to alternative pathways to healthcare? What is the current extent of self-referrals? How could this be improved?
  4. To what extent is there available capacity amongst other primary healthcare professionals to take on more patients if there was an increase in referrals from GPs / self-referral by patients?
  5. What potential is there for greater use of alternative pathways to healthcare to ease current pressures on general practice? What are the potential limitations?
  6. What scope is there for greater use of social prescribing to ease current pressures on general practice and to achieve similar or even better health outcomes?
  7. To what extent is best use currently being made of alternative sources of health and wellbeing information and advice (other than a patient seeing their GP) such as telephone helplines, websites and online therapy? What are the limitations / potential pitfalls of increased use of these resources as an alternative to patients making an appointment with their GP?

The public survey also (closed: 17 February 2022) you can read the

The call for views closed on: 22 February 2022.

You can read all the submissions here.

The committee held an informal evidence session on the 7th March 2022, you can read the collated notes here.

Oral evidence details:

8 March: The Committee took evidence from--

Val Costello, Patient Adviser, Citizens Advice Scotland Patient Advice and Support Service

Margaret McKay, Chair, Riverside Patient Participation Group

Hannah Tweed, Senior Policy Officer, Alliance Scotland


Wendy Panton, Senior Nurse, NHS Lanarkshire, Scottish GP Professional Nurse Lead Group

Dr Chris Williams, Joint Chair, Royal College of General Practitioners Scotland

Dr Anurag Yadav, General Practitioner, British Association of Physicians of Indian Origin 

Committee papers

Papers for the meeting on 8 March 2022 

Minute for the meeting on 8 March 2022 

 

15 March: The Committee took evidence from—

Clare Morrison, RPS Director for Scotland, Royal Pharmaceutical Society

Julie Mosgrove, Vice Chair, Optometry Scotland

Harjit Sandhu, Managing Director, National Community Hearing Association Scotland (NCHA)

Jess Sussmann, Policy Lead, Royal College of Psychiatrists in Scotland



Alison Keir, Professional Practice Lead, Allied Health Professions Federation Scotland

Dr Graeme Marshall, Clinical Director, Glasgow City Health and Social Care Partnership

Committee papers

Papers for the meeting on 15 March 2022

Minutes for the meeting on 15 March 2022 

 

22 March: The Committee took evidence from—

Clare Cook, Regional Manager and Co Chair of the Scottish Social Prescribing Network (SSPN), SPRING Social Prescribing

Alison Leitch, Community Link Worker Area Lead and Co-Chair of Scottish Social Prescribing Network, EVOC (Edinburgh Voluntary Organisations' Council)

Roseann Logan, Links Programme Manager, The Health and Social Care Alliance

Christiana Melam, Chief Executive Officer, National Association of Link Workers



Scott Henderson, Head of Programme - Digital Front Door, Technology Enabled Care

Chris Mackie, Digital Hub and ALISS Programme Manager, The Health and Social Care Alliance

Dr Paul Perry, Associate Medical Director, NHS24

Adam Stachura, Head of Policy and Communications, Age Scotland

Committee papers

Minute for the meeting 22 March 2022 

 

29 March: The Committee took evidence from— 

Humza Yousaf, Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Care, Scottish Government

Naureen Ahmad, Head of General Practice Policy Division, Scottish Government

Tom Ferris, Chief Dental Officer, Scottish Government

Alison Strath,
Chief Pharmaceutical Officer, Scottish Government

Michelle Watts, Senior Medical Advisor, Scottish Government

Committee papers

Papers for the meeting on 29 March 2022. 

Minutes for the meeting on 29 March 2022. 



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