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Paramedics replace GPs for out-of-hours care

PCTs are planning to employ nurses and paramedics to provide out-of-hours care when GPs opt out.

Trusts in north-east England have sent 16 'emergency care practitioners' on a Government-funded pilot training programme.

They intend to use the practitioners to provide the majority of out of hours care, including home visits, and eliminate GP involvement almost entirely.

Under plans made by Darlington PCT, the trust will provide out-of-hours care itself, rather than contract with a GP co-operative or deputising

service.

Dr Richard Harker, medical director of Darlington PCT, said the trust plans to use seven of the practitioners and base them at a local hospital alongside A&E services.

He said: 'We are hoping home GP visits will be minimal, although we have a 24-hour nursing service that can provide this if necessary.'

Trusts in North Tyneside have planned a similar scheme to link out-of-hours services with ambulances and A&E.

North Tyneside LMC secretary Dr George Rae said the model used nurse practitioners, paramedics and GPs and could be used to ease practices' in-hours workload

Brighton and Hove PCT is sending 12 nurses and paramedics on a 15-week course run by the ambulance service, but said its planned model of out-of-hours care would still use a GP co-operative.

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