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Younger female GPs in Scotland less likely to do OOH, report suggests

30 November 2015

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The Scottish government’s review on out-of-hours (OOH) services showed that in terms of the OOH workforce, while there are more females than males in the whole GP workforce, a smaller number of females contribute to working in OOH services.

The independent Primary Care Out-of-Hours Review, chaired by GP and Professor Sir Lewis Ritchie was published today by the Scottish government.

Its main recommendations were for multi-disciplinary teams, for one National Performer’s List, and that newly qualified GPs should be offered a one year post to include out-of-hours work with enhanced support and continuing professional development in out-of-hours medical care.

It also showed the age profile of GPs working in the OOH service is younger than the general workforce. The majority of OOH workers are male 35-44 year olds, followed by male 45-54 year olds, then female 35-44 year olds.

There was also a significantly smaller number of hours worked by the youngest GP cohort, aged under 35 years. The exact explanation for this remains unclear and is likely to be multi-factorial, however, GPs in the youngest cohort were recruited following the introduction of the 2004 GMS Contract, which no longer required GPs to be responsible for, and work in, OOH services.

Shona Robison, minister for public health in Scotland, said: “This whole-team, community-based care approach is the foundation on which we will transform our health system. This of course also relates to out-of-hours care, and as Sir Lewis outlines in his Review, the future model includes multidisciplinary teams working from urgent care centres across Scotland to meet the needs of their patients.

“Our recent investment of £10.7 million to NHS boards to meet winter demands means that health boards have robust systems in place, including in out-of-hours, for this winter. However, Sir Lewis’ Review provides the basis to move forward and embed changes that will improve services and ensure they are sustainable well into the future.”

The report also recommended developing a set of national standards for urgent out-of-hours care, improving patient record systems and technology, further developing support for self-care and enhancing joint working between health boards including the Scottish Ambulance Service and NHS 24.

See the full report here.