WORK to integrate a broad range of health professionals into the region’s Out of Hours team has taken another step forward.
At a meeting at the end of last month, the Out of Hours Steering Group agreed arrangements over coming months and years for a range of professionals including Advanced Practitioners, Clinical Pharmacists and Health Care Support Workers to support GPs to deliver care and support to the population in the evenings, overnight and at weekends as the expert generalists at the heart of the service.
Di Anderson is Interim Out of Hours Service Manager, and she said: “We’re very excited by moves which will go on to establish a much more multi-professional approach to Out of Hours.
“This reflects work which is already taking place within primary care as a result of implementing the new national GP contract.
“That transformation in primary care is seeing responsibility for work such as blood tests and vaccinations transferred to the health and social care partnerships.
“And this approach which sees health professionals helping meet the needs of patients is increasingly being seen in other areas, including Emergency Departments.”
Although more health professionals will be joining the Out of Hours Service in the future, the means of accessing the service will continue as before.
As ever, anyone seeking non-emergency medical assistance outside GP practice hours will telephone NHS24 in the first instance, ringing the free 111 number.
Di said: “If the issue relates to medication, then it could be that a clinical pharmacist has the sort of specialist expertise to best manage the situation.
“The GP has the ultimate oversight of the work being undertaken, and will sit at the hub of the service – constantly overseeing cases and available to provide input.
“They will be complemented by the multi-professional team who will operate as spokes, either in the Primary Care Centre environment or via a home visit if required. Individuals needing more intensive services will be routed to the hub for treatment.”
It is felt that the increased multi-professional approach will help to bolster and sustain the Out of Hours service, which generally relies on GPs committing extra time beyond often demanding daily commitments.
Di added: “People will be well aware that Dumfries and Galloway faces the same difficulties around GP recruitment as the rest of Scotland.
“And providing an Out of Hours service across what is sometimes a sparsely populated rural area can be a challenge.
“Similar to what we are seeing across Primary Care in general, the harnessing of a wide range of health professionals helps to support the GPs in their work, and makes best use of all available resources.
“Across all areas of primary and secondary care, people are likely to encounter an increasing range of health professionals helping to ensure their welfare.
“Ultimately, what’s key is having the right person, at the right time for the right situation, with the right skills and knowledge to meet that person’s needs.”