GPs working with paramedics has helped to save millions in avoided unnecessary A&E attendances in Worcestershire, the three local CCGs have said.
Since its launch in October 2012, the ‘GPs with ambulance’ scheme – a cooperation between the West Midlands Ambulance service, NHS South Worcestershire CCG, Wyre Forest CCG and Redditch and Bromsgrove CCG – has seen the ambulance service diverting patients to an on-call GP instead of A&E when they found this to be more appropriate. Since then, 2,900 emergency calls have been dealt with by GPs preventing over 2,300 A&E attendances, with an estimated saving of over £2.5 million, leaders of the project said.
Under the scheme, aimed at supporting the ambulance service and reducing the number of patients being admitted to hospital across Worcestershire, GPs are commissioned to work alongside paramedics and are either called out to an emergency by the ambulance control room, or by paramedics themselves, if they feel that a patient could be better cared for by a GP rather than in hospital. More than 50 GPs joined the scheme and are employed on a rota basis for eight hours a day, seven days a week between lunchtime and early evening – noted as the busiest time for ambulance crews.
Dr Nikki Burger, urgent care clinical lead for NHS South Worcestershire CCG said: ‘This scheme has gone from strength to strength since its launch. The pressures on emergency services are being felt all over the country and we have been really proud of the results that have been achieved in reducing numbers attending A&E.’
It comes as the Government wants GPs to help reduce pressure on A&E services by signing up to a £150m DES to cut unplanned admissions this financial year, although some experts have questioned whether the DES will fulfil its intended purpose.