The report found frustration with the appointment system
The current GP appointment system is a “frustration” for doctors and patients, a report for the British Medical Association (BMA) in Scotland has said.
Doctors, charities and the public said a more flexible approach to appointments should be a top priority for the service in future.
Patients have also called for better access to GPs via e-mail and telephone.
The BMA said research was needed to understand why demand for frontline health services was rising.
The report said: “Demand across all services, NHS 24, A&E and Scottish Ambulance Service is increasing. This continued rise in demand must be addressed.
Going back to old styles of working with GPs controlling other members of the healthcare team is not an option
Royal College of Nursing in Scotland
“In order to do so, it is important to understand why patients are seeking more support out-of-hours and the decision-making process they undertake when contacting an out-of-hours service.”
The report points to 1.55 million A&E visits in 2006/07, up 50,000 on the previous year.
Holyrood’s health and sport committee is investigating the availability of out-of-hours care in rural areas.
The report also said there was a “lack of awareness” that telephone helpline service NHS 24 is the “first point of contact” for non-urgent out-of-hours care.
“The Scottish government should commission research on the beliefs that underpin decisions to contact out-of-hours services and why demand is rising,” it said.
Download the New BMA Policy document General Practice in Scotland: The Way Ahead