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Public “must know out-of-hours practice”

12 November 2010

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Doctors and nursing leaders in Scotland have said that more work needs to be done to educate people about who to turn to if they need out-of-hours medical care.

Improving the standard of care in the out-of-hours period is a priority for doctors as well as politicians, according to the British Medical Association Scotland.

The doctor’s organisation said people need to be aware of what procedures to follow and who to contact outside of standard working hours,

Dr Andrew Buist, deputy chairman of BMA’s Scottish GP Committee, said the issue needed to be cleared up to stop over-tired GPs being relied on all the time.

He stated: “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.”

He continued: “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.”

Dr Buist stressed: “Out-of-hours care encompasses all aspects of the health service – general practice, secondary care and community care, all of which can be accessed by first contacting NHS 24.

“More should be done to promote NHS 24 to the public as the first point of contact for non-emergency calls out-of-hours.”

And Theresa Fyffe, Director of the Royal College of Nursing Scotland, said there was no need to assume out-of-hours healthcare must be provided by GPs.

The nursing leader said: “Since the vast majority of GPs have opted out of providing out-of-hours services, many health boards have found flexible solutions to provide high-quality healthcare services using the skills of different healthcare professionals.

“Highly qualified and skilled nurse practitioners have risen to the challenge of providing healthcare overnight and at weekends, alongside other healthcare professionals, supported by NHS 24, GPs and telehealth.”

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