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GPs go forth

Paramedics undertaking home visits in place of GPs

Paramedics have been attending home visits at weekends and evenings in place of GPs and nurses, as workforce shortages begin to bite out-of-hours service rotas in North Wales.

Betsi Cadwaladr University Health board said there had been difficulties finding staff, with the North Wales Out-of-Hours Service writing to GPs appealing for volunteers to staff the weekend’s rotas.

The letter from the out-of-hours service warned of shortages over the weekend of 1 and 2 August, and noted GPs should prepare for increased demand on Monday morning.

But, in a statement, the Health Board said the position had improved since the appeal, adding: ‘Although there are a number of shifts which we are still trying to fill, the service has the support of paramedics who are able to carry out home visits and also has the option of offering patients appointments at the neighbouring service in Ysbyty Glan Clwyd.

‘Nationally there are difficulties with recruiting GPs and nurse practitioners due to shortages of applicants amongst both staff groups and this issue affects North Wales. 

‘This can cause particular problems at this time of year when a number of colleagues are taking annual leave during the summer holiday period.’

Readers' comments (17)

  • Took Early Retirement

    I bet there would be less of a problem if they paid the doctors more. I wonder what happens if the patient needs a prescription?

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  • Difficulty finding staff?
    Not paying enough?

    If they offered me 1000 pounds an hour I would do the job (and commute from London). I understand that is ridiculous and unrealistic, but represents a point. There is a price at which they would be able to find GPs to fill the rota.

    With that in mind - is it acceptable for the current provider to undercut an alternative provider in the bidding process - only to find that the only way to make a profit is to not offer a GP enough money to take a job and instead fill the post with an alternative/ cheaper professional and make a slightly bigger profit?

    Seems unfair to the alternative providers who lost out on the bidding process, because they made a more realistic attempt to estimate the cost of finding GPs.

    The only solution is that the company is forced to pay whatever it takes to find the GPs and make a loss on the contract. It might stop them underbidding in the future and allow a fairer playing field for the other providers.

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  • Wouldn't mind doing a temporary job swap with the scoop and run brigade!

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  • Pay more money is the answer!!!

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  • pay GPs more, provide indemnity cover for GPs.....oh wait that will cost more and they can't massively undercut the competition then.

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  • Yeah, great idea, as there are so many spare paramedics around...

    At some point someone has to realise that the paramedics have a very important role elsewhere, and whilst fabulous and much appreciated helping out, have their own job to do.

    I am not a paramedic and a paramedic is not a GP. However, I am frankly more reassured by a service being provided by people who are well trained in triage skills and can spot a really ill person who needs to go to hospital from one who doesn't, as opposed to someone with a degree in theory of stuff and a diploma in being a GP helper.

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  • (Paramedic)
    It's been a while since we were simply a 'scoop and run' service. Most of our work these days falls under the umbrella of urgent care, thanks to a hyper-sensitive telephone triage system that treats a 20-year-old and a 90-year-old, both with chest pain, identically. As a result, we spend 85-90% of our time verbalising common sense to those with minor injuries and self-limiting illnesses, although our training still mostly centres around time-critical problems. There probably could be found a role for us in assisting with out-of-hours care, but it's fraught with risk if not supervised (defeating the object) or if additional training is not provided (paid for from the money tree, one presumes).

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  • 11 years ago the ambulance Trust I work for had the out of hours contract for the area. Many of us paramedics were trained as Emergency Care Practitioners to cover the GP home visits and see patients in base clinics, to examine, clerk, diagnose and treat as appropriate using PGDs
    As stated above, we are good at spotting sick patients but sadly out ECP role is hardly utilised anymore

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  • NHS Pays lawyers up to and more than £250 pounds an hour when it gets into a soup but doctors shouldn't be paid.
    The whole system is of 'them' and 'us'.
    'Them' are the plebs including NHS staff while 'us' are the institutional protégés of the government.

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  • At present I'm a Lead Paramedic working for SWAST. I'm currently enrolled in a course paid for by the NHS to become a Specialist Paramedic in Urgent and Emergency Care (SPUEC). This is the new ECP model which NHS England have proposed. All SPEUC will have post grad qualifications and we have to sit a modified MRCGP exam to practice. We have a great relationship with our GP colleagues as most of the patients I see we manage together as a team in the community. To the GP who called us the 'scoop and run brigade', you sir/madam should spend a day in our shoes. Heck, I'll even arrange a day for you! Let's keep up the team work, we're all in the same boat.

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