Scotland’s public would like to see much greater use of technology in its NHS, a Scottish Parliament Committee inquiry has found. The findings were published as part of the Health and Sport Committee inquiry into the future of primary care.
The Committee’s report is the first part of their inquiry which placed the views of the public as its starting point. The public outline their desire for all-encompassing electronic patient records, and the ability to contact health professionals by email, schedule appointments online and hold consultations via video.
The Health and Sport Committee decided that given multiple developments in Primary Care services it was appropriate to take a broader look at services and how they will look in the future.
The report highlights a clear desire from the public for a change in how primary care services are accessed and delivered. The most popular suggestions include:
- A greater focus on prevention rather than treatment including the introduction of a universal health MOT.
- Being seen by the most appropriate health professional as opposed to always a GP.
- Mental health as a priority focus with the NHS working with schools & employers to catch mental health problems early, and include mental health as part of teacher training.
- More flexible and streamlined appointment systems – including routine access to evening/weekend appointments.
- More easily accessible information about services available and expansion in primary care services, especially those regarding testing and diagnosis, and pain and weight management.
Other findings in the report include 77% of respondents agreeing with the Scottish Government vision for the future of primary care and 78% of those who have used out of hours services being satisfied or very satisfied with them.
Concerns were also raised over the centralisation of services and a disparity between rural and urban services.
The aim for the first phase of the inquiry was to hear directly from service users about their future priorities for primary care. The survey was launched at the beginning of March and remained open until the end of April. In total, they received 2,549 responses.
Input was also received from the Scottish Youth Parliament Survey who worked with the Committee to ensure they were able to access the views of younger people between 12 and 25. This survey received 1,136 responses.
Three public panels of 10-14 people were then established, sampled from a randomly recruited pool to meet to certain criteria (eg age, gender, socio-economic background). The panels were invited to discuss issues similar to those included in the survey in a more in-depth and informed way. Panels were located in the East (Dunfermline), West (Cambuslang) and North (Inverurie) (to mirror the NHS regions), with one a more rural location.
Lewis Macdonald MSP, Convener of the Health and Sport Committee, said:
“The future of primary care is something which will affect every citizen in Scotland. It covers a vast range of services from General Practitioners (GPs) or Community Nurses to our contact with other health professionals such as Physiotherapists and Occupational Therapists, Midwives, Dentists, Opticians and Pharmacists.
“We decided to put members of the public at the centre of this discussion and it’s clear from what we’ve been told that the public is well-informed, insightful and passionate about the future of primary care in Scotland.
“The public clearly has an appetite for change and retaining the status quo is not an option.
“For the second part of our inquiry, the Committee will take these findings to health professionals and seek their response before we make our final recommendations to Parliament.”
The full report can be found here.