Nurses 'can be first point of contact' in out-of-hours care

GPs do not necessarily have to be the first point of contact for patients out-of-hours, according to RCN Scotland.

Rural areas in Scotland could have nurses as first point of contact in providing out-of-hours services
Rural areas in Scotland could have nurses as first point of contact in providing out-of-hours services

It gave evidence to the Scottish government's health committee on Wednesday during its inquiry into out-of-hours healthcare in Scotland's rural communities, which is considering a petition calling for a GP to provide out-of-hours services in Kinnloch Rannoch, Perthshire.

Theresa Fyffe, RCN Scotland director, said: ‘Everyone, regardless of where they live, should be able to quickly gain the health advice and treatment they need overnight and at weekends.

‘Since 2004, the vast majority of GP practices have opted out of providing out-of-hours services. As a result flexible solutions to offering healthcare services have been found in many areas of Scotland. Highly qualified and skilled nurse practitioners have met this challenge and offer appropriate care and treatment to patients, particularly those in rural areas who do not have local GPs offering out-of-hours services.

‘So long as patients are treated by healthcare professionals with the right skills and qualifications, their job titles are not important. Health boards need to ensure that out-of-hours services are provided by teams of appropriately qualified and skilled healthcare professionals working together to offer safe and timely treatment to all communities regardless of location.'

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