NHS Fife out-of-hours GP plans criticised

Lack of recruitment at health board needs to be addressed ‘right now’, Green MSP says

Thursday 25th April 2019

An MSP has described NHS Fife’s plans to provide out-of-hours GP coverage as “worrying” and suggested the NHS board should learn from neighbouring NHS Forth Valley, which is moving to support its out-of-hours GPs with teams of allied health professionals.

Speaking yesterday in a Holyrood debate on GP recruitment and retention, Green MSP Mark Ruskell, who represents the Mid Scotland & Fife, said: “In my region, two NHS boards—Forth Valley and Fife—have been carrying out major service changes to out-of-hours primary care. Their approaches have been very different, however, and there are serious lessons to be learned for other NHS boards.”  

The MSP explained Forth Valley was recruiting a “significant team” of allied health professionals to ease the pressure on GPs and support out-of-hours provision:

“Earlier this year, 80 new advanced nurse practitioners, prescribing pharmacists, paramedics and other health professionals joined the NHS Forth Valley team—the first of more than 200 new staff who will deliver a multidisciplinary model of primary and out-of-hours care at locations across the area. I emphasise that the model continues to be led by GPs. It is important that GPs display strong leadership and are supported by those multidisciplinary teams, which they, in turn, support.

Turning to NHS Fife, he said:

“I have serious concerns about the ability to deliver an effective multidisciplinary model with the current staffing levels in Fife. There has been no recruitment drive comparable to that in Forth Valley NHS, and there are only five urgent care practitioners and 5.4 full-time equivalent advanced nurse practitioners in the training pipeline. There are 10.5 staff for Fife, versus 300 for Forth Valley. That is a worrying difference in our workforce planning, and I am deeply concerned that it will put our GPs in Fife under further pressure.”