A review on out of hours primary care services announced this week by the Scottish Government is little more than “buying time” on seven-day care.
That is the view expressed by Sean Morton, the Scottish Labour candidate for Moray in the UK general election in May.
As far back as October 2013 then Health Secretary Alex Neil MSP announced a need to “accelerate the pace of change” for seven-day services. Now current secretary Shona Robison has announced a review of out of hours care, saying there was to be a “new approach” to unscheduled care.
Ms Robison said: “Primary care is the cornerstone of the NHS with more than 90% of patient visits starting and finishing in primary care.
“Out-of-hours services are a crucial component of this and it is now more than 10 years since the current system was created.
“Our NHS is facing different challenges from a decade ago and we need to ensure all parts of the system work as effectively as possible to support an ageing population and more people with more complex, multiple conditions.
“That is why the time is right to review these services to ensure they continue to deliver sustainable, high quality, safe and effective care.”
However, Moray Labour spokesman on health Sean Morton said that if the SNP government were serious about reducing pressure on the NHS and delivering better care they would support calls for a £100million ‘Frontline Fund’.
Mr Morton said that Friday’s announcement merely highlights that nothing has been done since the same aims were revealed by her predecessor in 2013 – and the new pledge simply “buys them more time”.
He said: “Labour identified money in the Scottish Budget two weeks ago to establish a £100 million Frontline Fund which would kick start plans to make hospitals a round-the -week service with diagnostics and surgery in the evenings and at weekends.
“In October 2013 the SNP announced the same ambition that Shona Robison did today only now they will be looking at GP services in the review too- which is welcome news.
“There is simply no indication that any progress has been made for a year and a half. I would ask what they’ve been focussing on instead of health for the last 18months but I think we all know the answer. It’s not good enough for the people of Moray.”
Further detail on Friday’s announcement can be found at http://news.scotland.gov.uk/News/Review-of-out-of-hours-primary-care-1568.aspx