A PILOT scheme to help frail, elderly patients and those with complex health problems avoid being admitted to hospital has been extended to cover the Stirling area.
Three GP fellows will provide medical support and advice to the local multidisciplinary Enhanced Community Team, which accepts referrals from the six Stirling town centre GP practices as well as practices in Bannockburn, Fallin, Bridge of Allan and Dunblane.
They will also work closely with clinical staff at Forth Valley Royal Hospital.
Dr Paul Treon, NHS Forth Valley GP fellow, said: "Ensuring older patients have access to services and support will enable them to remain at home rather than having to be admitted to hospital.
"This is really important as some older people lose their confidence after a stay in hospital and find it difficult to return to living independently in their own homes."
The scheme is part of a wider heath and social care strategy to deliver improved care in the community.
The GP fellows are part of a new national training programme run in partnership with NHS Education for Scotland which aims to develop the skills and experience of recently qualified GPs in caring for older people.
Over the last year they have gained experience of working in a number of different health settings across Forth Valley and are now directly employed by the health board.
Mr Andrew Murray, medical director of NHS Forth Valley, said: "The number of people aged over 75 in Forth Valley is set to almost double in the next 20 years so it’s really important that we look at new ways of supporting older people in the community.
"This new pilot is an excellent example of multidisciplinary working and will give our GP fellows a chance to make use of the experience they have gained over the last year."