New research published today (Wednesday 8 December 2004) by DPP: Developing Patient Partnerships shows that high quality care and good access to health professionals are key concerns for both patients and GPs.
In Scotland, more than eight out of ten (84%) patients would be happy to see a health professional other than a GP if it meant getting faster service outside of normal surgery hours. Most GPs (73%) agree that using a mix of skills including GPs, nurses, paramedics and others can offer patients a high quality service when the surgery is closed and the majority (59%) would be happy to see other health professionals taking more responsibility for NHS out of hours patient care.
Under the new GP contract, responsibility for the provision of out of hours patient care will have transferred from most GP practices to NHS Boards throughout Scotland by 1 January 2005. These changes are expected to continue to provide patients with a high quality service whilst relieving pressure on GPs, a move which around three-quarters (74%) of patients feel is important and 71% of GPs believe will attract more doctors into the profession.
DPP: Developing Patient Partnerships is today launching the "Step by step: getting help from health services" campaign to help people know what services to choose when they are ill (especially in urgent or emergency situations) and highlighting the changes in NHS out of hours services.
Commenting on the campaign Dr David Wrigley, DPP spokesman said: "This research shows that patients recognise the need for a change to the way services are delivered. The finding that 83% of Scots are happy for pharmacists to be more involved in advising them about health issues, suggests patients are becoming less reliant solely on the GP.
"Encouragingly, 85% of Scots feel confident that they would get a good service from the NHS if they needed it and their surgery was closed. What we need to ensure is that patients are able to make the best use of these services by being informed about which service they use when they are ill and what to expect from these services. This is key to ensuring that people make the right decision at the right time. At times when they need to see a GP they can rest assured that they will be able to do so."
Dr David Love, joint chairman of the BMA's Scottish General Practitioners Committee said: "Many parts of Scotland have already successfully transferred responsibility for out of hours care to the local NHS Board.. However, it is important that the public is aware of these changes and how they can access appropriate health services, particularly during the holiday season.
"The changes to out of hours services are an opportunity to build on the high quality service previously provided by GPs, by making use of the skills of other health care professionals. This survey shows that the public recognises the problems of a shortage of GPs and the pressures that exist in primary care, but it is important that NHS Boards put sufficient resources into the out of hours services they are providing in order to maintain quality of care for patients."