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GP out-of-hours services could involve ‘telebooths’

A Scottish health board is considering using ‘telebooths’ as part of its out-of-hours GPs services, which will allow patients to talk to GPs from remote locations.

The suggestion, agreed at workshops held by NHS Highlands, could form part of future out-of-hours services.

It is one of a number of suggestions designed to improve the provision of OOH services in the rural region, after the board found that the current system had ‘led to a fragmented approach, lack of ability to cross cover and it is extremely expensive’.

In papers published ahead of a board meeting next week (3 February), NHS Highlands director of operations Gill McVicar listed suggestions to improve the situation that were agreed at a steering group workshop comprising clinicians and managers.

One suggestion said ‘telebooths for use by patients to speak to a healthcare professional’.

Other suggestions included ‘improved transport including use of maritime and air wing solutions’, ‘routine surgeries at weekends run by peripatetic staff in rural areas’ and more use of technology.

The board paper said these suggestions ‘will mean considerable change to the way the service is currently delivered and it is likely to lead to community concern, especially where there will be a sense of loss when traditional approaches are changed. Strong clinical leadership and programme management support is required to progress all aspects of the plan.’