The widely anticipated report into safeguarding the future of Scottish out-of-hours care is now available.
Led by Prof Sir Lewis Ritchie, the report – commissioned by the Scottish Government – offers a comprehensive assessment of the challenges and opportunities into providing sustainable, quality out-of-hours care across Scotland. The challenge of recruiting GPs (amongst other health professionals too), the rising demand from comorbidity and our ageing population, as well as rising expectations generally… make for a tricky landscape for which to design a strategy like this.
However, the opportunities in more co-ordinated working, building on the strengths of integrated teams and more effective (and efficient) approaches to unscheduled care – appear to be a cornerstone of the report, which was published yesterday.
In addition, it makes clear that the service needs to seize more benefits offered by technology – for example in remote assessment and co-ordination of service providers. Technology cannot offer all the solutions, but we need to be better connected. It is apt that another story ran yesterday about the scale of the lack of connectivity in rural parts of the UK – and that’s just on the roads. The need for high-level pressure on connectivity providers is clear, if the recommendations of the OOH report are to be realised.
Another welcome observation is that OOH can be a stimulating area of practice, and a useful learning environment – for students, GP trainees and other practitioners wanting to increase their experience of unscheduled care. There is also a hint towards the fact that current OOH centres often struggle to offer appropriate rest/catering facilities for their staff.
There is regular consideration throughout the report of the ways in which services have to consider local geography and other service provision. It appears to be a great example of a rural-proofed document, that takes Scotland’s rural populations well into account in its recommendations. There is a lot to digest, and of course the challenge will be in implementation. However, as a major stepping stone towards a more sustainable OOH service, it appears to hit the mark.
The report is available in full here: http://www.gov.scot/Publications/2015/11/8463/downloads