The Royal College of Nursing Scotland has welcomed a report from Scottish Parliament’s Health Committee on the provision of out-of-hours healthcare.
Theresa Fyffe, director of RCN Scotland, said: “I am pleased that today’s report appears to recognise that it is not access to a GP in the out-of-hours period that should be important, but it is speedy access to an appropriately skilled healthcare professional that health boards should be striving for. Many health boards are already finding ways of providing a range of out-of-hours services to rural communities but this report quite rightly identifies that a lot of work has to be carried out by the NHS to ensure that these services are ‘joined-up’ and that the public know what services are available to them.
“In some rural areas, as part of a mix of services, highly qualified and skilled nurse practitioners provide expert care and treatment to patients alongside other healthcare professionals, supported by GPs and also by telemedicine. RCN Scotland urges health boards to more effectively promote this type of service to the rural communities they serve.
“People living in rural communities are not necessarily being short-changed, but if health boards fail to let them know what services are available, people in these areas will continue to feel at risk. It is also imperative that the innovative ways of ensuring access to out-of-hours healthcare are shared and built on by all health boards who serve rural communities in Scotland.”