Scotland 'must invest more in advanced nurse practitioners'

Senior nurses needed to meet heavy demand for out-of-hours services, says RCN

The NHS in Scotland must invest more in advanced nurse practitioners to address heavy demand for out-of-hours services, the RCN has urged.

As the Scottish government launched its Creating a Healthier Scotland programme yesterday, a report on GP out-of-hours activity was published, which showed there were almost 900,000 patients seen at GP out-of-hours services in Scotland and close to a million of these patient consultations between April 2014 and March 2015.

The Information Services Division (ISD) Scotland report, the first of its kind, also showed that one in five out-of-hours consultations consisted of advice given by an out-of-hours doctor or nurse.

More than half (56%) involved attendances at primary care centres or emergency centres and 19% involved home visits.

RCN associate director Norman Provan said: ‘Senior nurses working at an advanced level of nursing practice are already making a significant contribution in some parts of the country to effective out-of-hours care. Investment is needed now to make sure their potential as part of a multidisciplinary team is realised and their expertise is shared across the country.’

He added: ‘The number of patients using out-of-hours services is large and the fact that almost one fifth are over 75, potentially with complex needs, means that our nurses, doctors and other healthcare staff face major challenges in providing these services.’

Scottish health secretary Shona Robison said: ‘The report will help support our national review of GP out-of-hours services in light of the challenges of Scotland’s ageing population, and the new ways of working that health and social care integration will bring.’

A series of meetings and consultations on the future of health and social services in the country will be held between now and April next year as part of the Creating a Healthier Scotland programme.

The first meeting took place in Dundee yesterday, involving government officials, NHS staff, charities and patient groups, and Ms Robison called on people from across the country to get involved. 

RCN Scotland director Theresa Fyffe said: ‘We must ensure that all sections of society have their voices heard.’

Read the ISD report here and more on the Creating a Healthier Scotland programme here

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