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Last Updated: Wednesday, 12 December 2007, 18:34 GMT
Patient 'walk-in access' plans
GP taking blood pressure

Patients are to get walk-in access at pharmacies for a range of treatments, the Scottish Government has announced.

Members of the public will be able to receive treatment for minor injuries and access to sexual health screening.

The move is part of the SNP's three-year vision to boost access to healthcare, which also includes more flexible and longer GP opening hours.

Labour said there was "widespread concern" that the SNP had not kept up the last government's health spending.

Outlining the plans to boost primary healthcare in the Scottish Parliament, Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon also said patients would be given a greater say in running the NHS.

In the past few weeks we have had three debates on EU reform but not one on health
Margaret Curran
Labour health spokeswoman

"We have set out a plan for a National Health Service based on the values of collaboration and co-operation, not the whims of the market," she said.

"We affirm a unified structure in which decisions are made in the interests of the people we serve and not by the demands of internal competition.

"A public service, used by the public, paid for by the public and owned by the public."

Ministers are to pilot the community pharmacy scheme in five health board areas - Grampian, Greater Glasgow and Clyde, Lanarkshire, Lothian and Tayside - around main commuter points, shopping centres and inner city areas.

They will provide extended hours walk-in access to services which would also include diagnostic tests and some adult immunisations.

NHS Boards and GP practices will also be asked to provide a more accessible service to fit in with patients' lives, including more flexible access during working hours and extended opening.

Accountability call

There will also be a consultation on the possible content of a Patients' Rights' Bill by May next year, covering waiting time guarantees.

Labour health spokeswoman Margaret Curran accused the government of ducking the issue, adding: "In the past few weeks we have had three debates on EU reform but not one on health."

"All Margaret Curran can think of to say is to complain about the format of the announcement," Ms Sturgeon replied. "That does show a dreadful lack of vision."

Tory health spokeswoman Mary Scanlon said there was much to welcome in the plan, including a resurfacing of the patients' charter "first introduced by the Conservatives in 1991" and more cash for drug and alcohol treatments.

Ross Finnie, the Liberal Democrat health spokesman, told Ms Sturgeon: "I would welcome some confirmation that parliament is going to be able to hold you to account, not just several months after a year has ended but that we will be able to have measurement on a much more regular basis."

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