Urgent action is needed to resolve serious shortcomings in the provision of out-of-hours healthcare in rural areas, according to a report published today by the Scottish Parliament.
The Health and Sport Committee has uncovered a number of issues that need to be addressed, including confusion among patients caused by the absence of a co-ordinated approach to out-of-hours care.
Christine Grahame MSP, Health and Sport Committee Convener, said: “Out-of-hour services must be fully joined up – and they are not. NHS Boards should be given the responsibility for devising and delivering new and tailored arrangements for services which are sustainable and meet the needs of individual communities. This should be delivered in consultation with those communities.
“Confidence also has to be re-built in NHS 24 to ensure it operates as a fully effective element of the out-of-hours range of services.
“Cost pressures must not be allowed to further damage out-of-hours services.”
The committee’s inquiry examined the current approach to out-of-hours provision, including the launch of NHS 24 in 2001 and the advent of the general medical services (GMS) contract in 2004 allowing GPs to opt out of out-of-hours services.
Evidence presented to the committee by the British Medical Association revealed that 95 per cent of GP practices in Scotland have opted out.”
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