Patients in need of urgent and unplanned care are to be offered at-home appointments as part of a range of measures to tackle hospital accident and emergency waiting times.
Health secretary Humza Yousaf has announced a package of more than £50m to be shared between Scotland’s health boards this year in an effort to “reshape” unscheduled care services.
The Urgent and Unscheduled Care Collaborative will see NHS boards adopt a number of measures include offering patients alternatives to hospital-based care.
Patients seeking emergency care will also be offered scheduled urgent appointments to avoid long waiting times in A&E, the Scottish Government has said.
It comes as figures revealed, one in eight people are on some form of waiting list for hospital treatment in Scotland.
Data from Public Health Scotland (PHS) revealed an additional 28,000 had been added to pending treatment waitlists in the first three months of 2022.
The latest weekly data shows that almost 30% of A&E patients waited longer than four hours for treatment.
In the week ending May 22, 70.2% of patients were seen within the four-hour standard, according to PHS.
Yousaf said: “It is absolutely critical we ensure people are receiving the right care at the right time and in the right place.
“That’s why I’m pleased to confirm today’s £50m investment to help achieve our national and urgent unscheduled care priorities.
“Our twin approach of investment and reform in urgent and unscheduled care will help our boards see people need urgent attention more quickly.
“For many, A&E may not be the best place for their healthcare needs and our £50 million improvement programme will offer patients alternative routes to urgent care.
“Last year, 4,500 patients received care from a Hospital at Home service – without this these patients would have experienced an acute hospital stay, we are determined to build on this success.”
Scottish Labour health spokeswoman Jackie Baillie said: “It is welcome to see Humza Yousaf finally take action on the on-going A&E crisis – but it will be cold comfort for the tens of thousands of Scots who have had their lives endangered during this crisis over several months.
“For nearly a year, Humza Yousaf has walked by on the other side of the road as Scots languished for hours in A&E with some losing their lives as a result. Make no mistake – Scots will have lost their lives due to this deadly delay.
“What we need to know is whether this is genuinely new money to deal with this deadly crisis or if it is yet another SNP re-badging exercise.
“Currently, this looks like another SNP sticking plaster that will do nothing to tackle fundamental issues like delayed discharge and a lack of beds.”