Nursing leaders in Scotland have called for patients to be made more aware of where to turn to for out of hours medical care.
The Scottish government is looking at ways of improving out of hours healthcare, with the British Medical Association Scotland insisting the issue is a priority for doctors as well as politicians.
Theresa Fyffe, director of the Royal College of Nursing Scotland, explained there was no need to assume out of hours care must be provided by GPs.
She said: “Since the vast majority of GPs have opted out of providing out of hours services, many health boards have found flexible solutions to provide high quality healthcare services using the skills of different healthcare professionals.
“Highly qualified and skilled nurse practitioners have risen to the challenge of providing healthcare overnight and at weekends, alongside other healthcare professionals, supported by NHS 24, GPs and telehealth.”
Dr Andrew Buist, deputy chairman of the British Medical Association’s Scottish GPs committee, agreed educating patients about out of hours care was a priority.
He said: “In today’s modern service much more complex care is provided to patients in hours and there needs to be a comprehensive out of hours service that does not rely on over-tired GPs bearing the brunt of the work.”
“More should be done to promote NHS 24 to the public as the first point of contact for non-emergency calls out of hours.”