NHS Greater Glasgow today announced details of its plans to provide general medical out-of-hours care as part of the wider plans to implement the new national General Medical Services (GMS) contract.
Following discussions with Glasgow Emergency Medical Services (GEMS) - the independent co-operative run by Glasgow GPs which currently provides general medical out-of-hours services across Greater Glasgow – NHS Greater Glasgow has approved proposals to transfer GEMS into the NHS from 1 July 2004.
GEMS was established in February 1996 and provides a range of out-of-hours general medical services including home care advice, assessment and treatment at six centres across the city and home visiting, where clinically necessary.
Dr Iain Wallace, Medical Director of NHS Greater Glasgow's Primary Care Division, said: "The GEMS model is highly regarded throughout the UK and these proposals, which are supported by the Local Medical Committee, Health Council and A&E staff, will provide continuity of care for patients and allow us to further develop and improve out-of-hours services across Greater Glasgow."
Dr Norrie Gaw, Chairman of GEMS, said: "GEMS has been a great success largely due to the hard work and dedication of its staff and Glasgow GPs. Under the terms of this agreement all existing GEMS staff will transfer into the NHS to ensure we can build on the knowledge and experience gained over the last 8 years."
He added: "These arrangements will ensure Glasgow patients will continue to have access to the same high standards of out-of-hours medical care that they presently enjoy, delivered by the same doctors and nurses."
NHS Greater Glasgow is committed to maintaining the level and range of existing general medical out-of-hours services and to exploring opportunities to further integrate these services with other NHS out-of-hours care such as community nursing.
Under the terms of new national GMS contract, if GPs opt-out of providing a number of services, including out-of-hours care, responsibility for providing these services then passes to the local primary care organisation. The current arrangements for out-of-hours medical services in Greater Glasgow (known as Glasgow Emergency Medical Services or
GEMS for short) have been in place since February 1996. GEMS is an independent co-operative which operates during evenings, weekends and public holidays. Almost 100% of Greater Glasgow GPs are members of the scheme. Patients, who are assessed by NHS 24 on behalf of GEMS, can receive home care advice, attend one of the six GEMS centres across the city or receive a house call. Before midnight clinic based services are provided at the Western Infirmary, Drumchapel Hospital, Stobhill Hospital, Lightburn Hospital, the Victoria Infirmary and Cardonald Clinic. After midnight, due to the reduced level of demand, services are provided at Stobhill Hospital and the Victoria Infirmary.
A minibus patient transport service is provided for patients unable to attend a GEMS centre without transport assistance. Around 250 GPs currently work for GEMS on a sessional basis and the service employs around 220 staff including nurses, receptionists, security staff and drivers.
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