More nurses should be involved in out of hours care, nurse leaders have claimed.
Following Scotland’s annual Primary Care Workforce survey, the Royal College of Nursing Scotland (RCN) said nurses are already making a huge difference and could do more.
The survey showed that 54% of the nurses directly employed by GP out of hours services were nurse practitioners. A quarter were community nurses and 8% were minor injuries nurses.
RCN Scotland director Theresa Fyffe said the survey does not show the difference nurses are making.
She said: “We all want to see more care delivered safely in the community so that more patients are treated in their own homes with fewer admitted to hospital. But we need clear evidence that we are developing the workforce with the necessary skills to deal with the increasingly complex conditions which are presenting in the community.
"The Primary Care Workforce Survey and the pilot survey on GP out-of-hours services are welcome steps in the right direction to achieving this. But what the pilot GP out-of-hours survey doesn’t show is the real difference nurses are already making in out of hours care, for example, in areas such as Grampian.”
Linda Harper, a lead nurse in NHS Grampian’s out-of-hours service, said: “One of the real benefits of having advanced practitioners working in out of hours care is that patients can be seen by the right professional at the right time in the right place.
“We visit patients in their own home, in community hospitals, nursing homes and at Primary Care Emergency Centres throughout Grampian. We are able to assess and treat patients, and we work very closely with GPs, paramedics and other professional colleagues. The end result is that patients who do not need to be treated in hospital get the care they need wherever they are.”