Scottish nurses to take over GP out-of-hours

Scottish health ministers are considering plans to farm out GP work to nurses to tackle the country’s out-of-hours staffing crisis.

GPC Scotland chairman Dr Dean Marshall
GPC Scotland chairman Dr Dean Marshall

The plans follow a report by Audit Scotland that found the number of GPs willing to work shifts during evenings and week-ends had fallen by 15 per cent in the 12 months to April 2007. It also found NHS boards were struggling to fill rotas (GP, 31 August - Scottish out-of-hours pay may rise).

The Scottish executive has confirmed that it is looking to nurses and other healthcare workers to fill the gap in out-of-hours care left after the new GMS contract allowed GPs to opt out of 24-hour responsibility. But GP leaders said nurses did not have the skills to cope with many life-threatening conditions and warned the plans were ‘dangerous'.

GPC Scotland chairman Dr Dean Marshall told GP that there was no shortage of GPs wanting the work. Cost-cutting exercises were behind the amount of out-of-hours work being carried out by GPs, he said.

'Put simply, nurses cost less. Obviously money is an issue, but it is not the only issue. Clearly we have had a problem with getting GPs to do out-of-hours shifts. In my opinion the primary care organisations (PCOs) have done a lot to exacerbate the problem. In some cases they have given the shifts to nurses because they're cheaper,' he said.

Comment below and tell us what you think 

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins


Already registered?

Sign in