MSPs launch inquiry into how people in Scotland access healthcare services


An inquiry into the different ways patients access healthcare services in Scotland has been launched by the Health, Social Care and Sport Committee.

Traditionally, when a person seeks healthcare their first point of contact is usually with a general practitioner (a GP or family doctor) but the inquiry is focused on other routes to accessing healthcare that exist in the community, referred to as ‘alternative pathways’. The aim of the inquiry is to explore how and to what extent these alternative pathways are being used to access primary care, and to identify key issues and opportunities for improvement. 

Alternative pathways to healthcare in the community include:

• Seeing a different health practitioner, such as a physiotherapist, nurse, pharmacist, speech therapist, or podiatrist who works in the GP practice or in the local community.

• Being directed to other types of support to improve health and wellbeing – such as walking groups, community groups, advice, or volunteering (referred to as ‘social prescribing’).

• Using telephone helplines, websites to access additional information, advice and online therapies.

The Committee is seeking to find out the current level of awareness amongst health practitioners and patients of alternative pathways to healthcare other than seeing a GP and how this might be improved in the future. They are keen to find out what capacity other primary healthcare professionals have to take on more patients, the role of social prescribing in alternative pathways and how technology can improve services.

Speaking as the inquiry launched, Gillian Martin MSP, Convener of the Health, Social Care and Sport Committee, said:

“The traditional model of primary care where you went to see a GP for any and all health issues is placing ever increasing pressure on GP services.

“This isn’t a sustainable situation for general practices – but it’s also not good for patients struggling to get a GP appointment when there may be alternative and better routes they could go down to get the healthcare they need.

“Through our detailed work on this inquiry, the Committee is keen to explore what opportunities exist to make more and better use of these alternative routes to healthcare.

“We want to find out what role they have to play in creating a modern, flexible, community-based healthcare system which allows patients to access the right professional, at the right time.”

If you are a medical professional or organisation who would like to respond to the inquiry you can do so here: 

Members of the public can give us their views here:

The call for views will close on 22 February 2022.



You can learn more about the work of the Health, Social Care and Sport Committee on the Scottish Parliament website.

Media information

Nick Connelly: 0131 348 5453 / 07866 125623
Text Relay calls welcome
[email protected]

Committee information

Heather Galway, Assistant Clerk to the Health, Social Care and Sport Committee [email protected]

Public information

• Telephone enquiry line: 0800 092 7500 or 0131 348 5395 (Gàidhlig)
• [email protected]
• Text 07786 209 888
• Ask a question online through  live chat
• We also welcome calls using the Text Relay service or in British Sign Language through contactSCOTLAND-BSL

Social channels

You can also follow the Scottish Parliament on Twitter @scotparl and keep up to date with the Health, Social Care and Sport Committee @SP_HSCS

Like us on Facebook for updates on news and events

Or find out more on YouTube  

This website is using cookies.
We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue without changing your settings, we’ll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies on this website.