Controversial proposals have been announced that will see patients in Scotland assessed by nurses instead of consultants in a bid to achieve targets for NHS waiting times.

Other measures to increase productivity in the NHS include many follow-up appointments being scrapped and a scheme that could see patients discharged from hospitals over the weekend.

The plans are aimed at meeting 18-week referral to treatment targets.

They will see specialist nurses and health professionals judge whether a patient needs specialist attention or just requires advice. Holyrood ministers hope the move will free up consultants’ time for other tasks.