As a result of pressures facing its current urgent Out-of-Hours service, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (NHSGGC) has introduced a short-term contingency plan which will consolidate services and ensure a consistent and stable service can be delivered across the region.
The move will allow service continuity until a number of longer term improvements can be implemented.
The change comes following significant challenges caused by national changes to pensions, in addition to local operational issues which have left fewer GPs available to work within Out-of-Hours. The impact has led to short-notice centre suspensions, resulting in an inconsistent and unsustainable service.
The temporary arrangement will be implemented immediately and will see Out-of-Hours overnight services delivered from four core centres at Stobhill, Victoria, Royal Alexandra and Vale of Leven Hospitals during the week. With the exception of Vale of Leven, these centres will also be open during the evening and at weekends.
The GP home visiting service is unaffected and will continue to operate as normal. Additionally, any patient who is assessed by NHS 24 as requiring to visit an urgent Out-of-Hours Centre, but unable to travel independently, will still get assistance from the patient transport service as required.
The following centres – Inverclyde Royal Hospital, Greenock Health Centre, Easterhouse Health Centre, Gartnavel Royal Hospital and QEUH will be temporarily suspended.
To determine core sites, key consideration was given to the numbers of attendances, access to the sites and capacity in the buildings. The contingency plan has the backing of Sir Lewis Ritchie who led a national review into the ongoing delivery of Out-of-Hours services.
The move comes as a major recruitment campaign for more GPs, advanced nurse practitioners and allied healthcare practitioners continues to help create a multi-disciplinary Out-of-Hours service to provide an effective long-term solution. Other improvements being implemented include:
Kerri Neylon, Primary Care Lead GP at NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde said:
“A number of contributory factors mean the current out-of-hours service has become unsustainable. Temporary consolidation of services is the only option which will enable us to continue providing this crucial service in the immediate future. This formalises the ad-hoc arrangement which has increasingly become the norm in recent months and provides patients and staff with certainly and reliability.
“We are absolutely committed to delivering a long-term sustainable, safe and reliable Out-of-Hours service to patients across Greater Glasgow and Clyde.
“The long-term delivery model, which uses new technology, alongside smarter recruitment is demonstrably the best way to meet demand. We are working to implement those changes as quickly as possible and we are acutely aware of the need to do so. There will be regular updates on progress.”