What’s your view on out of hours care?

Wishaw General Hospital
Wishaw General Hospital

NHS Lanarkshire is asking people their views on the GP Out Of Hours Service and how it could be improved.

A full review of the service, which operates at the evenings and weekends when GP practices are closed, is currently underway.

Craig Cunningham, Head of South Lanarkshire Community Health Partnership, NHS Lanarkshire, said: “Our current Out Of Hours Service is staffed by a committed and experienced team of General Practitioners, nurses, other health professionals and support staff.

“However, like other health boards in Scotland, we face a number of challenges in delivering out of hours GP care. We want to explore how we can address these issues and improve the service by engaging with people who use the service, staff and GPs who work in it and others who may be interested in its development.

“We want to put the opinions of patients, clinicians and other stakeholders at the heart of this process so we can work together to improve the Out Of Hours Service to ensure we develop a service model that is as safe, person-centred and effective as possible.”

NHS Lanarkshire’s Out Of Hours Service is for people who need urgent medical care and cannot wait until their GP surgery is open.

The service can be accessed by calling NHS 24 on 08454 24 24 24. An NHS 24 nurse advisor will assess your symptoms and advise you what to do next. If you need to see or speak to a doctor or other health professional, the nurse will arrange this for you.

Out Of Hours GPs can provide advice over the telephone or see patients by appointment in one of the Primary Care Out Of Hours Centres.

The main centres in Lanarkshire are within the emergency departments at Wishaw General Hospital, Monklands Hospital and Hairmyres Hospital. There are two satellite centres at Central Health Centre, Cumbernauld, and Lanark Health Centre. Home visits are also provided where necessary.

On average, the service sees around 1,000 people each week at the centres, carries out 300 home visits and provides advice over the phone to 177 patients.

Across Scotland, it can currently be difficult to get enough GPs to work in the out of hours period. At times this has meant that one or more of the out of hours centres in Lanarkshire has had to close temporarily as well as fewer GPs being available to provide home visits.

Dr Chris Mackintosh, Associate Medical Director, NHS Lanarkshire said: “Our key aim is to provide a safe out of hours service, which means we need to look at all aspects of how the service works.

“The needs of patients and the challenges facing the service have changed since it was originally set up. This has had an impact on the ability of NHS Lanarkshire and other health boards across Scotland to continue to deliver the service in the same way it has been. We have an opportunity to address this now and develop an improved service before we reach the stage where the service can no longer cope.

“Having a comprehensive review will help us find the best option for dealing with the challenges facing the service so we can deliver the best service for patients.”

The Out Of Hours Service operates overnight (6pm to 8am) during the week and all day and night at the weekend. It also provides care when GP practices are closed for public holidays.

Some of the doctors who provide the service are salaried employees of NHS Lanarkshire. The majority are self-employed GPs who work on a shift-by-shift basis in the service.

NHS Lanarkshire wants to hear the views of anyone who has used the Out Of Hours Service or is interested in how it is provided. As part of the review, people are being asked to provide comments and suggestions about the service.

Craig Cunningham said: “We will keep people informed of any proposals to improve the service that emerge from the review process and ask them what they think of these proposals before we take any decisions.”

NHS Lanarkshire is collecting views by a range of methods including:

Carrying out surveys of people using the service

Speaking to local stakeholder groups like the Public Partnership Forums

Public partnership forum representation on the review group

Holding focus groups with staff and GPs.

If you would like to share your views and experiences or have any other comments about the review, you can:

Feed your information in through the Patient Partnership Forums. Visit NHS PPF for details of your local forum.

Fill in the questionnaire when you use the service

Email: OOH review.

More information about the review and some frequently asked questions are available at NHS OOH