Summary Report of the National Review Primary Care Out of Hours Services

A Summary Report of the independent Review of Primary Care Out of Hours Services Chaired by Prof Sir Lewis Ritchie. The Main Report, which accompanies this summary version, provides a more comprehensive overview of the Review, its methodology, findings and rationale for the recommendations proposed.

Cabinet Secretary's Foreword

We treasure our National Health Service. I don't believe that starts and stops with core NHS services. We treasure all the incredible services provided day and night by a whole host of social care and other partners, in the public, third and independent sectors.

Following the Christie Commission, our commitment has been to ensure that there is clarity in the increasingly complex landscape so we find ourselves accessing ever more integrated, person-centred services that make sense to us and allow us to feel in control of our own lives. This is at the very heart of our 2020 Vision for Scotland's Health.

A significant part of what matters to us is our sense that these caring partners - in the NHS and beyond - are there for us when we need them. None of us can take this for granted. Those who provide these services are just like us - they have families, commitments, lives. The challenge of 24/7 365 days a year service delivered to an exceptional standard is considerable.

It is within this integrated framework that out of hours primary care services sit. The GPs, nurses, other professions, administrators and technical staff all help to provide vital access to not only advice but to urgent appointments when we need them at night and at the weekend. Their dedication and commitment is remarkable and makes a real difference to thousands of Scots every night and weekend.

The out of hours primary care system has been under strain for some time now, with pressure of work rising and increasing numbers of people seeking help and advice. So the time was right to review the system and to look for expert advice on how to sustain and build this essential service to the people of Scotland.

It is clear that this would be no simple task. In order to meet the challenges set down by Christie and to deliver our 2020 Vision, this had to be a wide ranging review, incorporating many different viewpoints and seeking to get a clear view of the contribution that different professions, organisations and sectors could make to building a service for the future that was safe, high quality and sustainable. I was delighted that Professor Sir Lewis Ritchie was able to commit to provide this expert advice and to lead the Review.

I believe that in the report that follows we have the clear, authoritative advice we were looking for. All relevant authorities, organisations and those with a stake in out of hours primary care and urgent care more generally must now reflect on this advice. I expect to set out how the Scottish Government plan to respond early in 2016.


Cabinet Secretary for Health, Wellbeing and Sport

November 2015


Email: Diane Campion

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