PATIENTS in Inverclyde will get more time with their GP thanks to a new pilot scheme.

Pharmacists have been drafted in to work in local practices in a bid to reduce the workload of family doctors.

It is one of a number of new measures introduced to tackle the GP crisis affecting the district.

A new report shows that one aspect of the programme has already proved a success so far, freeing up 24,000 hours and allowing doctors to extend appointment times for their patients to 15 minutes.

Inverclyde is also involved in an expansion of the minor ailments scheme, where GPs refer patients on to pharmacies.
The changes are part of a plan by the Scottish Government to tackle the shortage of GPs.

Now Inverclyde Joint Integration Board are being asked to find £200,000 to continue funding the local pilots.

Board member Margaret Telfer, a community representative, said: “I think this is something we need to give a chance to see if it can work. In the long run it could cut costs by reducing the number of people ending up in hospital.”

Inverclyde was selected by the government for a couple of pilot projects because of particular problems in the area.

It has a high number of patients with complex needs, health inequality and struggles to recruit doctors.

Leading GP Dr Hector MacDonald, the clinical director of the health and social care committee, has backed the move to continue funding the scheme.

He had previously highlighted problems with practices struggling to get locums and to find new GPs.