New role for paramedics

Amazed this hasn't appeared so far:

From The Indie:

Union attacks new role for paramedics
By Ben Russell, Political Correspondent
27 June 2005

Plans for trained paramedics to treat patients on the spot, rather than taking them by ambulance to hospital, have come under fire from union leaders.

Patricia Hewitt, the Secretary of State for Health, insisted the scheme, under which "emergency care practitioners" would deal with nine out of ten urgent calls, would not put patients at risk.

But Ray Carrick, the assistant general secretary of the Ambulance Service Union, told the BBC that staff had concerns about the scheme. He said: "For it to work well, the scheme is going to be utterly dependent on the information that is passed from the call to our control room.

"So when somebody dials 999, what they tell our control is what everything is going to be based on, and that is not always accurate."

Mr Carrick said the new paramedics were likely to be experienced existing staff. "When they are taken out to do a training programme three or four months long, they will have to be covered ... and there are only so many people we can draw on to fill those vacancies."

The government-backed review to be published this week will claim that one million patients are taken to accident and emergency departments unnecessarily, and propose giving paramedics new skills to extend their care for patients.

Under the proposals, the traditional two-person ambulance would be reserved for the most serious cases, with lower-level problems dealt with by paramedics.

But Ms Hewitt said the NHS would "err on the side of caution" to ensure patients were not at risk.

"There is a new role for the ambulance service that is developing and that is, if you like, to take the hospital to the home," she said.

"A lot of the calls ... especially at night and at weekends don't actually need the patient to go to hospital. With extra training ... [paramedics] can go straight out to the patient's home and see and treat the patient, but ... if there turns out to be something more serious the patient will be brought to hospital."

She told Sky News: "This is not a cut in the service - this is a real improvement and it is very much what patients are telling us they want: more care, closer to home. This is not about cost; this is about reshaping the ambulance service."

The Conservatives were broadly supportive. Andrew Lansley, the shadow Health Secretary, said: "If we had a more integrated emergency service, this would help ensure that the most appropriate person deals with each case."
Full story is here.

Comments? :D
This is causing a bit of a ripple around the ambulance services, but some have already initiated this system. It makes sense for the patient on many levels, but the idea of taking the most experienced / able paramedics, training them up and sending them only to non emergencies (earache, sutures etc.) doesn't sit well with a lot of staff. ECPs in some areas are being sent only to calls from patients over 60, not ideal. A further problem is that there is as yet no uniformal standard of ECP training or syllabus, so you are never really sure what you're getting when your ECP arrives, some of them will come from paramedic backgrounds, some from nursing.
Of course, the whole thing is still in it's infancy, so I expect we'll find a way to make it work, eventually! :D
I imagine the AMS will talk about introducing a similar scheme in about 20 years....

... and the QAs will insist that only nurses can do it.

I can see the advantages of an ECP system, but I'm not sure it won't be as abused as the current system.
ViroBono said:
I imagine the AMS will talk about introducing a similar scheme in about 20 years....

... and the QAs will insist that only nurses can do it.
I agree, apart from the time scale, I would hedge closer to 30 years!!
We have been doing it in London for a while now, and although it has its place its not going to be the solution to all the other problems we currently have, at least half the patients that are seen by the ECP end up being conveyed to hospital anyway, and when you know that the ECP's currently only work up until 10/11pm and theres no out of hours GP service who do you think ends up doing all the sh*tty night shift calls that no-one else can be arrsed to do, yep, you guessed it, its just another "smoke and mirrors" exercise to cover up the complete shambles the Ambulance services are in, and until some decent money is ploughed into them always will be..

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