The Scottish government is to review how health and social care services are run over public holidays, including how to avoid unnecessary hospital admissions and ensure speedier discharge back into the community.
Health secretary for Scotland Shona Robison insisted the work was “not about asking our doctors, nurses, social workers, pharmacists, or paramedics to work even harder”.
“This is not about asking our doctors, nurses, social workers, pharmacists, or paramedics to work even harder”
The review will look at how hospital, community and social care services can be co-ordinated more effectively, said Ms Robison.
The work, which will be commissioned by the Scottish government, will be carried out in partnership with the Royal College of Nursing, the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, the British Medical Association, health boards and other professional bodies.
It will build upon a previous national review of primary care out-of-hour services in 2015, led by Sir Lewis Ritchie.
The review called for changes including a bigger role for nurses and other non-medical practitioners in urgent care services, and better use of technology to co-ordinate and provide care.
“This review will examine what more can be done to reduce the impact of public holidays on patients who need care during this period”
Announcing this latest review, Ms Robison said: “It is important to recognise that thousands of NHS, social care, independent and third sector staff work extremely hard over public holidays throughout the year – providing a lifeline of care and support to patients throughout Scotland.”
She said that, while staff had been busy in recent weeks, it was to their credit that accident and emergency performance had been maintained at similar levels to last year, which was in contrast to other parts of he UK.
“We want to build on this progress, and this review will examine what more can be done to reduce the impact of public holidays on patients who need care during this period,” she said.
“Services such as pharmacy, social work, GP, NHS 24, and hospital services including diagnostics, all have an important role to play in ensuring the smooth discharge of patients or avoiding unnecessary hospital admissions,” said Ms Robison.
“With health and social care services now integrated, it is a fitting time to do this work,” she said.
“This is not about asking our doctors, nurses, social workers, pharmacists, or paramedics to work even harder, this is about looking at how we work in different, integrated ways to benefit both patients and service providers,” she added.
The review group is expected to report in full by summer 2017, with any early recommendations being announced before the Easter break.