Practice nurses should be the first port of call for the majority of primary care patients, according to the Royal College of Nursing in Scotland.
The first ever national general practice week in Scotland is currently under way, organised by the Scottish branches of the British Medical Association and the Royal College of GPs.
RCN Scotland said the event should be used as an opportunity to find new ways of ensuring expanding communities have access to appropriately qualified healthcare professionals.
RCN Scotland director Theresa Fyffe said: “Everyone, regardless of where they live, should be able to quickly gain the health advice and treatment they need.
“Since 2004, the vast majority of GP practices have opted out of providing out of hours services. As a result flexible solutions to offering healthcare services have been found in many areas of Scotland. Highly qualified and skilled nurse practitioners have met this challenge and offer appropriate care and treatment to patients.
She said: “If nurses can provide these services in the out of hours period, they can also provide the same level of high quality care during the day.
“So long as patients are treated by healthcare professionals with the right skills and qualifications, their job titles are not important,” added Ms Fyffe.
The national general practice week, themed “celebrating the best of NHS general practice” aims to raise awareness of the range of services provided locally to patients by GPs and the wider primary healthcare team, and also to encourage politicians to value NHS general practice.