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Last Updated: Wednesday, 8 December, 2004, 06:55 GMT
Scots welcome new NHS care plans
Doctor and patient
GP out-of-hours services are set to change in the New Year
Most patients would be happy to see a health worker other than an out-of-hours GP if it meant a faster service, according to a new survey.

The British Medical Association poll found 84% of people in Scotland would not mind seeing a nurse or paramedic.

From January, GPs can opt out of out-of-hours care, passing responsibility to local primary care trusts.

But critics say the new system means patients are denied access to GPs, and are often forced to go to A&E.

The changes in out-of-hours provision are expected to relieve the pressure on GPs.

The latest poll, by Developing Patient Partnerships (DPP), found that 79% felt reducing the pressure on GPs was important.

At times when they need to see a GP they can rest assured that they will be able to do so
Dr David Wrigley
DPP spokesman

And 80% of people in Scotland thought it was reasonable for most patients to go to a health centre for care when their surgery is closed.

UK-wide research also revealed that 71% of GPs believed the move would attract more GPs into the profession.

The DPP has launched the Step by Step campaign to help patients decide what service they need when they are ill and explaining the changes to out-of-hours services.

Dr David Wrigley, DPP spokesman, said: "Encouragingly, 85% of Scots feel confident that they would get a good service from the NHS if they needed it and their surgery was closed.

"What we need to ensure is that patients are able to make the best use of these services by being informed about which service they use when they are ill and what to expect from these services.

Need for resources

"This is key to ensuring that people make the right decision at the right time. At times when they need to see a GP they can rest assured that they will be able to do so."

Dr David Love, joint chairman of the BMA's Scottish General Practitioners Committee, said: "Many parts of Scotland have already successfully transferred responsibility for out-of-hours care to the local NHS Board.

"However, it is important that the public is aware of these changes and how they can access appropriate health services, particularly during the holiday season."

He added: "This survey shows that the public recognises the problems of a shortage of GPs and the pressures that exist in primary care, but it is important that NHS Boards put sufficient resources into the out-of-hours services they are providing in order to maintain quality of care for patients."

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