The NHS in Scotland has had to increase rates of pay for out-of-hours GPs in efforts to fill empty shifts this summer.
Last month, Scotland on Sunday revealed that doctors feared an impending crisis in out-of-hours care as GPs were no longer as willing to cover evenings and weekends.
The Scottish Government and health boards have now said they are confident all shifts will be covered in the coming months following efforts to tackle the problem.
But part of this solution has involved raising the rates of pay doctors receive in some parts of Scotland.
The normal rates of pay vary around the country, but are normally between £50 and £80 an hour. This can rise to £150 per hour around holidays such as Christmas.
Ayrshire and Arran is among those boards who have increased pay, with rates up by 30 per cent depending on the shift. This means, for example, the hourly rate for working a weekend shift between 1pm and 6pm has risen from £79.80 to £103.74.
NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde said it has increased its weekend out-of-hours rates to £90 an hour in line “with action taken by other west of Scotland health boards” during the holiday period.
Dr Alan McDevitt, chair of the British Medical Association’s Scottish GPs committee, said: “It would seem that for the moment the immediate crisis has been averted.
“We still have to look at the long-term out-of-hours services and there is a review on unscheduled care going on at the moment which is looking at A&E and GP services. We are part of that process to make sure that services are fit for the future and sustainable in the long-term.”
Dr McDevitt said measures to avert the crisis had involved increasing pay in some areas. “The rates had been fixed since 2004 so by changing them they have got more people interested,” he said.
Health Secretary Alex Neil said: “We have sought assurances from individual boards regarding this summer. To date boards continue to confirm their ability to provide effective provision.”