SEEING your family doctor for any and all health issues “isn’t a sustainable situation for general practices”, an MSP has warned, as an inquiry into how Scots access healthcare services is launched.

With GP surgeries coming under ever-greater pressure, MSPs are set to look at other routes to accessing healthcare and work out how these alternative pathways are being used to access primary care, and to find out how these can be improved.

Gillian Martin, convener of the Scottish Parliament’s Health, Social Care and Sport Committee, warned that “the traditional model of primary care where you went to see a GP for any and all health issues is placing ever increasing pressure on GP services”.

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The SNP MSP added: “This isn’t a sustainable situation for general practices – but it’s also not good for patients struggling to get a GP appointment when there may be alternative and better routes they could go down to get the healthcare they need.”

As part of the inquiry the committee is set to explore how and to what extent alternate pathways are being used to access primary care, and identify key issues and areas for improvement.

Calling helplines and using websites to access additional information, advice and online therapies is one alternative pathway to be explored by the Holyrood committee – as are being directed to other types of support to improve health and wellbeing like walking groups, often referred to as social prescribing, or seeing a different health practitioner like a speech therapist, physiotherapist, nurse, pharmacist who either work in the GP surgery or in the local community.

The Aberdeenshire East MSP said: “Through our detailed work on this inquiry, the committee is keen to explore what opportunities exist to make more and better use of these alternative routes to healthcare.

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“We want to find out what role they have to play in creating a modern, flexible, community-based healthcare system which allows patients to access the right professional, at the right time.”

The committee is looking to find out the current level of awareness among health practitioners and patients of the alternative pathways of healthcare other than seeing a GP and how it might be improved.

They said they were keen to find out what capacity other primary healthcare professionals have to take on more patients, the role of social prescribing in alternative pathways and how technology can improve services.