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RCGP ‘open’ to having paramedics as part of GP teams

Plans to provide specialist training for paramedics to help alleviate the pressure on over over-stretched GPs and urgent care services have been welcomed by the RCGP. 

Over the weekend, reports suggested that paramedics would undergo a four-month training course in order to provide out of hours GP services and prescribe medicines. The Daily Mail also suggested they would be placed in GP surgeries, holding routine clinics. 

While NHS England confirms it is running a consultation on whether some advanced level paramedics should be given rights to prescribe medicines to patients, it makes no proposals in relation to paramedics carrying out routine appointments. 

Suzanne Rastrick, chief allied health professions officer at NHS England, said: “The NHS England consultation on proposals to introduce independent prescribing by paramedics across the United Kingdom launched in February, considers whether advanced level paramedics should be given rights to prescribe medicines to patients. 

“The potential benefit, subject to consultation, is that patients would be able to access the medicines they need in a timely manner, which means their treatment will be more effective. 

“The evidence is due to be reviewed by the Commission on Human Medicines in October, we note that the BMA (British Medical Association) has submitted a formal response to the consultation which said that they believe the case put forward in the consultation is valid.” 

Some health campaigners have voiced concerns about the potential quality of care provided by the trained-up paramedics. 

But Dr Maureen Baker, chair of the RCGP, said her organisation would be interested in having community paramedics as part of practice teams who could respond to urgent requests for home visits, both in and out of hours. 

“But this must not replace the GP appointment – and paramedics must never be used as a substitute for GPs,” she said. “GPs are highly trained medical doctors, and our skills at being able to diagnose and treat the ‘whole person’ through initial consultation and the unique relationship we build up with our patients over time cannot be subsumed by other health professionals.” 

Dr Baker added that paramedics provide a vital and invaluable service to the NHS but that service is already under severe strain. “We would want assurances that workload pressures are not simply being transferred from one area to another, as this will not benefit patients or GPs.”


Andrew Mchugh   17/08/2015 at 13:20

We already Emily a paramedic and have done so for over a year. Absolutely brilliant. It's not like taking the lid off the pressure cooker but we are now operating with a much lighter weight!

Robin Turner   17/08/2015 at 14:17

I have noted the commemnts by professionals' represenatives in and for the National Health Service. However if the Service is overstretched then advanced Para medices are to be expected, in the proposals, to do different work. Would that be additional to their existing work load? If not who would do their existing work?

Robert Standfield   19/08/2015 at 15:43

Reinventing the wheel?

Simon Lee   14/02/2016 at 22:53

I worked as a Paramedic practitioner for Patients 2 People, first in Essex and then in Milton Keynes. We worked under the CCG's and saved time for GP's and ambulances attending to minor illnesses/injuries for elderly patients in residential homes and being able to prescribe antibiotics and other medicines. It really worked, saving hundreds of thousands of pounds for the NHS, the company had reports produced proving this fact. The company was set up by two ex board of directors from East of England and West Midlands Ambulance trusts and a private ambulance service. They used their own pension funds to establish the company. Patients 2 People used nurses and paramedics. Unfortunately due to NHS politics, when the contracts came up for tender NHS departments were chosen instead after the concept was proven to work. Now the DTI are pretty promoting this concept overseas due to the world's aging population. It works and works well.

Simon Wicker   09/04/2016 at 12:48

As a paramedic with the former East Anglian Ambulance Trust I was part of a scheme called the Community Paramedic Scheme. This worked very well and advanced my skill set and therefore ability to manage patients myself, keeping them away from hospital and preserving vital ambulance resources. The scheme was abolished in 2006 when the current government merged SHA's and created East of England. The focus of this new trust was purely targets and performance and abolished he scheme that had worked so well for 10 years. Ironic now that 10 years later they should actively be seeking to reinvent these schemes as performance is so poor.

Andy Watts   27/09/2016 at 09:27

I left the East of England Ambulance Service over one year ago to work as a Practice Paramedic at a surgery in Suffolk (albeit title change to Urgent Care Practitioner). A very different role which has enabled me to vastly develop as a clinician. The initial feedback from patients and staff is positive. I believe this trend will continue and more 'front-line' paramedics will migrate to primary care.

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