Scottish out-of-hours services must improve, says GPC Scotland

The Scottish Government and NHS Scotland should set better quality standards for out-of-hours services, Scotland's GP leaders have said.

GPC Scotland also called for better coordination of out-of-hours services to ‘deliver real improvements for patients’.

It said involving GPs and other service providers in the planning and co-ordination of services can deliver real improvements for patients. It said this would not need a change to the GP contract.

Dr Andrew Buist, deputy chairman of GPC Scotland, commented: 'There is a perception amongst politicians and the public that the problems with out of hours care stem from the introduction of the GP contract in 2004. This is not the case.

‘In today’s modern service much more complex care is provided to patients in hours and there needs to be a comprehensive out of hours service that does not rely on over-tired GPs bearing the brunt of the work.’

GPC Scotland also said more should be done to promote NHS 24 to the public as the first point of contact for non emergency calls out-of-hours.

Dr Buist added: ‘NHS 24 has improved over the last few years, but more needs to be done to educate patients as to who to contact out of hours. Patients continue to receive high quality health care round the clock. However, it is by no means perfect. Improving out of hours care is a priority for GPs as well as politicians.’

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