Young children can be more difficult to assess over the phone, so call handlers from NHS 24 are more likely to direct families with under-fives to an out-of-hours GP for a second opinion.
Under the £195,000 pilot scheme, a family doctor will be on hand to ensure young children are directed to the right place in a bid to assist doctors in stretched accident and emergency departments.
Alongside telephone advice, parents will also be offered a face-to-face appointment with a triage nurse to assess who would be the most appropriate medic to see their child.
The Lothian pilot is part of a wider plan to improve out-of-hours services across Scotland, following a major review by leading doctor Sir Lewis Ritchie last year. Health secretary Shona Robison said: “Our NHS is facing different demands from those of a decade ago and we need to ensure all parts of the system work as effectively as possible to support an ageing population, with more complex, multiple conditions.
“We want a high-quality out-of-hours service which fully meets their needs and does so consistently and reliably throughout Scotland. Sir Lewis Ritchie’s review into out-of-hours care has provided a blueprint to take forward this work, and today’s announcement of eight test sites across Scotland is the first step towards delivering on the excellent recommendations made.”
GP leaders hailed the plans for an on-site GP at the Sick Kids, saying it could improve communication and understanding between GPs and hospitals.
Dr Miles Mack, chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) Scotland, said: “This pilot will see GP expertise being based in the emergency department to enable them to better manage patients who attend.
“Furthermore, it will improve communication and mutual understanding between general practice and out-of-hours and the hospital emergency department. This pilot will prepare for the move of the Royal Hospital for Sick Children to its new site [in Little France], alongside the existing out-of-hours services.”
Other models being tested include a GP-led out-of-hours team in Grampian and nurse-led home visits in Glasgow.
Dr Sian Tucker, clinical director of the Lothian Unscheduled Care Service, said: “This pilot scheme will help us ensure that children are able to see the right clinician, first time, no matter where they attend in Lothian and we welcome the funding from Scottish Government which will allow us to assess the impact of providing such a service.”