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by Christine Hoy
30 April 2015
Soapbox - Dr Finlay’s Facebook for primary care - Christine Hoy

Soapbox - Dr Finlay’s Facebook for primary care - Christine Hoy

The concept of health outside the usual health buildings was aired at the recent Next Steps for Primary Care in Scotland event.

There were some surprising facts (for example, the average age of women retiring from general practice is 36 years), and dialogue about being able to respond quickly to the changing and unfamiliar demands being made on primary care. 

At the event there seemed little doubt about the preparedness to pool resources, but conditions have to be right to encourage joint working.

Establishing these right conditions is urgent, as demand for primary care services continues to rise. Dr Ken Lawton reflected that A. J. Cronin’s Dr Finlay’s Casebook may have a part to play – as part of the nation may have a lingering memory of hard-pressed doctors, Dr Finlay and Dr Cameron, working night and day, familiar with every tonsil and family in Tannochbrae.

Many will remember the two weary doctors scratching their heads about some never-seen-before illness, as housekeeper Janet serves up not just their tea, but inevitably the answer to some medical conundrum.  Of course, the (usually) happy ending was all down to Janet’s chance encounter in the butcher’s, in other words, it was solved by her community connections.

The Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland is constructing a sort of ‘Dr Finlay’s Facebook’, one which links the best of personal and local assets with modern digital technologies.  This is being done through a number of programmes, but in particular through the Links Worker Programme and A Local Information System for Scotland (ALISS).

The ongoing Links Worker Programme aims to enable the primary care team to support people to live well in their community through enabling better access to information, knowledge, skills, relationships and resources, while the ALISS system has harnessed 21st century technology to produce a tool which individuals, professionals and communities can use to gather, maintain and share information – a kind of “digital Janet”.

Linking the unconditional care, which is offered through universal registration with general practices, with the excellent sources of support which lie in many communities must be at the heart of our new models of primary care.

Christine Hoy is Primary Care Programme Manager at the health and social care ALLIANCE Scotland

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