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Former Health Secretary Speaks Up On Out Of Hours
A former Scottish health minister this week called on NHS bosses to halt their plans to axe the out-of-hours service based at Wishaw General’s Accident and Emergency unit.
Shotts MSP Alex Neil blasted plans to reduce the number of GP out-of hours centre down to one or two.
Health chiefs proposals to centralise this service to a clinic in either Hamilton or Airdrie.
In a detailed submission to NHS Lanarkshire, Mr Neil says that such a move could lead to a large increase in the number of patients using Accident and Emergency Departments.
The Scottish Government’s Communities Minister makes a number of recommendations
■ An ambitious and on-going recruitment drive to bring more GPs to work in Lanarkshire
■ Bringing back GP co-operatives which worked well before
■ Introduce salaried GPs to deliver services, which will attract many younger GPs who don’t want to be self-employed
■ Make much greater use of other qualified professionals like nurses, advanced nurse practitioners and the ambulance service’s treatment at home programme
Mr Neil wants to retain three out-of-hours centre in Wishaw, Airdrie and East Kilbride and made three further recommendations:
■ Give people the option to use out of hours services in other NHS Board areas if that suits them better
■ Ensure transport to and from out of hours centres for those who need it
■ Extend the normal opening hours for GP surgeries to help reduce out of hours demand levels by patients
Mr Neil added: “I believe the proposals would provide a better plan for improving out of hours services than that published by NHS Lanarkshire and I hope they will take it seriously.”
Craig Cunningham, head of South Lanarkshire Community Health Partnership, said: “Mr Neil’s consultation response recognises the pressures NHS Lanarkshire’s out-of-hours services are under and the need to change.
“Many of Mr Neil’s points relate to national issues that we anticipate maybe addressed as part of the national review.
“Some of his suggestions have been previously identified by the health board and are already in place, such as a recruitment drive, transport and extended opening hours and salaried GPs.
“We are still facing the fundamental challenge that we cannot currently provide patients with a high quality service across three centres. There are many occasions we currently have to go down to one or two centres due to difficulties with GP availability. NHS Lanarkshire’s process to reach the options for consultation was recognised by the Scottish Government as following the national guidance on informing, engaging and consulting.
The process was independently endorsed by the Scottish Health Council.”