Ahead of receiving his covid-19 vaccination today, Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie set out plans to increase the range of healthcare, diagnosis and treatment in local communities with more services delivered through pharmacies and GP surgeries.
The party says that super-specialisation and centralisation of health services has left people in remote and rural areas, such as Caithness, with long journeys to hospital for treatment and want to create new measures to encourage staff to take up posts in rural and remote areas.
The Scottish Liberal Democrat manifesto will contain proposals to:
- embed more nurses, dieticians and physiotherapists with GPs so that people can get a wider range of diagnosis, treatment and follow-up care within their community.
- empower pharmacists to do more prescribing, making use of secure health records.
- Create strong clinical networks to give peer support to professionals working in remote and rural communities.
- Change professional education to include more training placements in rural communities to give students a taste for the benefits of the work.
- Adapt national guidelines so that they support rural healthcare.
Willie Rennie said:
“The pandemic has had a massive impact on our NHS and the heroic staff who work within it. I want to ensure that the NHS recovery is taken seriously in every corner of Scotland.
“There will always be centres of excellence, but we must get far more healthcare in local communities so care is as close as possible to home.
“We have seen people in Caithness angry that specialist maternity services have been taken out of their local hospital so that many mothers now have to travel to Inverness to have their baby. We've even seen reports of mothers going as far as Livingston.
“We want a new deal to increase the range of treatments and diagnosis that are undertaken in communities and hospitals across the country."
Mr Rennie added:
“In Australia and Canada there are posts called Rural Generalists. There is even an Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine. This makes careers in rural areas much more attractive.
“Our plans will increase the number of professionals living and working in rural areas which will help build stronger, diverse communities.”