A former Fife councillor has called for an overhaul of GP services which he believes could put an end to three week delays for appointments.
Andrew Rodger, who chaired the region’s Integrated Joint Board until he stepped down in 2016, said the Nuka care systemcould revolutionise patient care.
Trialled at Muiredge Surgery in Buckhaven in 2012, the system originates from Alaska, where by using a more holistic approach to patient care it has been successful in meeting the needs of a population with widespread mental health and addiction problems.
Mr Rodger said current negotiations around the new GP contract provided an opportunity to make Nuka integral to healthcare in Scotland.
“When this was trialled at Muiredge, they saw a 50% decrease in outpatient referrals, a 40% decrease in accident and emergency visits, a 30% drop in hospital bed days and admissions, a 20% decrease in GP surgery visits and a 92% increase in employee and patient satisfaction rates.
“That’s why I’m saying we need to get this system in place as quickly as possible.
“What I’m saying quite clearly is there is an opportunity with the new GP contract to take this on board.”
Under the pilot at Muiredge, the practice population was divided into groups of 1,500 patients, with each assigned an integrated team comprising a GP, case manager, healthcare assistant, an administrator and a behavioural health consultant.
Mr Rodger said the behavioural health consultant was crucial because he or she looked at the wider lifestyle issues of the patient in relation to not just physical, but emotional and mental wellness.
“Nuka is not about triage, it’s a case management system,” said Mr Rodger.
“It’s giving patients time to get things seen to at one appointment by using a holistic approach.”
Mr Rodger said the system would eliminate waits of up to three weeks for GP appointments, currently experienced by some patients in Fife.
NHS Fife’s director of public health, Dr Margaret Hannah, has endorsed Nuka and in 2011, before taking up the post at the health board, visited Anchorage in Alaska with a team from Fife to learn about the system.