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NHS in the community plans

Published: 7 Sep 2015 15:00

Role of local GPs set to change

The role of general practice in our health service is set for a significant shakeup, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon confirmed today.

Over the next two years, ten health centres across the country will form 'community care teams' and test different ways of delivering healthcare including:

  • Local surgeries working together for faster appointments
  • GPs and health professionals – such as physiotherapists - working together in multidisciplinary teams so that patients see the right professional quickly
  • Local centres providing treatments which patients currently have to travel to hospital to receive – including short stay in-patient beds for assessment and treatment.

Two of the test sites will trial a new type of doctor to head up the multidisciplinary teams – and a small number of GPs will have the opportunity to receive an additional year of training to give them the skills to take on the new role and work across primary and acute care. Nurses and other health professionals will also have the chance to develop new skills as part of the plans.

The First Minister Nicola Sturgeon met with patients and GPs at Wester Hailes health centre which is part of a group of seven GPs across Edinburgh working together. They have also linked up with other healthcare providers to work more closely with the local community and tackle the underlying causes of health inequality – such as substance abuse, mental health issues, employability and social isolation.

Ms Sturgeon said:

"People deserve the very best treatment at the right time and in the right place – and that's as close to home as possible.

"We have already taken steps to integrate health and social care and now transforming our GP services and local health centres is the next step. That means you will see the professional who can best help you and, in some cases, your local GP will soon offer the type of treatments that previously only hospitals could deliver.

"I can confirm that ten test sites will run over the next two years so we can see the most effective way to introduce these new ways of delivering community based healthcare across Scotland.

"Nobody wants to go into hospital if they don't have to and with these new plans, people will see a better service and be able to be treated in the local community.

"This is good for patients and good for the NHS – GPs in particular will see their role develop in a significant way."

Notes to editors

Those sites will be in locations across Scotland, including: Glasgow, Fife, Tayside, Forth Valley, Campbeltown, and Mid-Argyll. Our aims are based on some simple principles:

  • To deliver as much care as possible at or close to home.
  • To ensure that care is delivered by the individual or team with the most appropriate skills, helping individuals plan for their care.
  • To ensure that people are only admitted to hospital when they are in real need of hospital treatment.
  • To ensure that when someone is admitted to hospital their journey out of hospital is planned and straightforward.

Case studies:


In Tayside, practices are developing sustainable models of general practice in the context of integrated care and demographic changes.The programme involves merging of 2 GP Practices in Forfar (Academy Medical Centre and Ravenswood Surgery) equalling 14,126 patients. These practices already have a strong history of working collaboratively with their patients. The programme aims to build upon this with their patients to further develop and redesign services. Key learning will be influenced by the South Central Foundation in Alaska (NUKA model).

Isle of Islay

Three existing GP practices are working to put in place a new service, exploring a multi-practice model, to enable a more stable and sustainable healthcare service for residents centred around the community hospital and care home, with future plans to look at whether this could be extended to include the Isle of Jura.

Mid Argyll

The proposal is to establish a single GP out of hour's service for Mid Argyll integrated with the Lochgilphead Medical Practice community hospital inpatient and A&E service. The amalgamation of two practices will enhance local service delivery and provide a larger pool of GP workforce to provide the service.