Modernising Out of Hours Care

Modernising Out of Hours Care

A revamp of the GP and Primary Care Out-of-Hours (OOH) service is currently under way in Forth Valley, with an appeal for GPs to come back to the service. A recruitment drive is also in place for advanced nurse practitioners.

Dr Karyn Webster, who together with Dr Chris Mair is one of our new joint OOH clinical leads, says a modern workforce approach is required to help deliver sustainable OOH services in the future. She envisages greater joint working and sees paramedics, mental health nurses and social care staff as vital to out of hours care. These developments will also support the recommendations of the recent national strategy for Primary Care Out-of-Hours services which followed on from a major review of services across Scotland.

Dr Webster said: “We are looking at developing other roles to support OOH care, for example advanced nurse prescribers. In the past we have had to close centres for short periods of time due to problems getting GP cover but having staff with a wider range of skills would provide additional support for GPs and guarantee a better service for our patients. What patients are looking for is someone to listen to them and address their concerns and where patients have been seen by a nurse prescriber in the past they have been very happy with the service.”

As part of the modernisation, advanced mental health nurses now provide extended cover during the OOH period. This means that from 9.00pm to 8.00am they are able to take calls through NHS 24 where people have felt suicidal or have threatened to harm themselves. The OOH service has also been working with the Scottish Ambulance Service to look at ways that advanced paramedic specialists could support care by making home visits.

Dr Webster emphasised that training is very much part of the new approach. Advanced nurse practitioners will take on a mentoring role and GP colleagues across Forth Valley will come in to deliver training sessions.

Winter 2017/18 Developments & Innovations