Fears about rural areas' GP cover

FRAGMENTED health care services must be brought together to improve the standard of cover in rural areas.

MSPs yesterday heard evidence from health professionals, following concerns that remote parts of Scotland were not getting the best out-of-hours GP cover.

The Holyrood inquiry was told the clock could not be turned back to an idealised time when local GPs were on call at all times.

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Dr Andrew Buist, a GP who speaks on rural issues for the British Medical Association, said: "The ideal for any patient, for any one of us, is to have your own GP available to you out of hours. But the world has moved on."

Professor Allyson Pollock, director of the Centre for International Public Health Policy at Edinburgh University, questioned whether complementary services were expected to substitute for GPs.

She said: "We're talking about the entitlement that Scottish people have had since 1948, which is now impaired."

The committee is to hold a public meeting next week.