Fragmented health services must be combined to improve the standard of cover in rural areas of Scotland, MSPs have been told.
Changes helped urban areas in the 1990s but new contracts in 2004 led about 95% of GPs to "pass responsibility" of out-of-hours care to health boards, Dr Andrew Buist told a Holyrood inquiry.
It was time to "stabilise the arrangements" that already exist, said Dr Buist, who speaks on rural issues for the British Medical Association.
The clock cannot be turned back to an idealised time when local GPs were on call at all times, he said, adding: "The world has moved on."
Professor Allyson Pollock, Director of the Centre for International Public Health Policy at Edinburgh University, said: "We're talking about a universal entitlement to GP services".
The committee is due to hold a public meeting at Kinloch Rannoch, near Pitlochry, on the issue of rural cover next week.
Copyright © Press Association 2010
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