Patients struggling to get an appointment at GP surgeries may soon find it easier to see a different health professional.
NHS Forth Valley has begun to recruit specialist health workers to work in GP surgeries, including mental health nurses, pharmacists, physiotherapists and advanced nurse practitioners.
The first 80 came together for an induction day recently and a total of 200 will be recruited.
The aim is that they will help free up GP time to deal with more complex cases, NHS Forth Valley announced.
Lesley Middlemiss, programme manager for primary care transformation across Forth Valley, said: “This is a really good news story.
“There will be a broader range of expertise available at their local GP practice, helping with both diagnosis and the management of a wide range of conditions, medicine reviews and urgent appointments for new and existing illnesses.
“It’s a really positive move towards greater team working. This is not about replacing GPs, who remain at the heart of primary care, but easing pressure and making sure that patients get the best help where they need it most.”
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One in four GP posts in Scotland is vacant and these changes are designed to share the care and workload currently being experienced by family doctors.
Mental health nurses are already offering support for patients with mild to moderate mental health problems in several GP practices – and more than half of the area’s GP practices will have mental health nurses in place by the end of 2019.
Pharmacists have begun working in practices in Falkirk town centre and another ten will be recruited for Stenhousemuir,Denny and Bonnybridge.
The pharmacists will undertake medicine reviews, deal with repeat prescriptions and ultimately hold clinics as part of NHS Forth Valley’s Primary Care Improvement Plan.
Ten advanced nurse practitioners are currently under training and they will soon be joined by advanced physiotherapists, care home support nurses and practice nurse trainees.