Innovative approaches to workforce and better IT are needed in rural areas if primary care is to be fit for purpose for the next generation.
A new report also highlights concerns about patient confidentiality in small and rural communities when using non-clinical staff for triage purposes.
In the second part of an inquiry launched in 2019, the Scottish Parliament’s Health and Sport Committee calls for a radical revision of primary care. It says: “The traditional 9-5, 5 days a week service must become a thing of the past, replaced with a new model shaped around users’ needs.”
MSPs have urged the health service to fully embrace technology, enabling better data sharing and monitoring, to deliver a 21st century system fit for patients.
In rural areas, healthcare professionals describe current IT systems as “obstructive”, particularly around shared access to relevant information. The use of non-clinician staff in triage services also prompted concerns about the level of knowledge and training, as well as confidentiality.
More generally, the inquiry highlights the growing costs and demands due to an ageing population, the obesity epidemic and health inequalities.
The Committee’s report questions the Government’s commitment to recruit at least 800 more GPs by 2030. They say the emphasis should instead be placed on committing to appropriate recruitment of professional staff across multi-disciplinary teams (MDTs), including both GPs and other professions.