GPs have called for an end to the ‘outrageous’ practice by ambulance trusts of delaying emergency responses to practices.
They said patients’ lives were being put at risk due to the delays – and warned ambulance services were wrong to believe patients were safe just because a GP was present.
GP surgeries ‘are not an emergency service,’ they warned, stressing that ‘when we see somebody who we think is really ill, they usually are really ill’.
Speaking at the annual conference for England LMCs in London today, GP Dr Andrew Scott-Brown warned GPs were effectively being expected to provide stop-gap emergency care on behalf of under-pressure ambulance services.
‘We are not the un-costed solution to others’ blown budgets – still less the solution to our own calls for help. Stop this nonsense now,’ he urged.
Dr Sean Culloty said he had to wait three hours for an ambulance for a patient with sepsis, despite numerous calls to the control centre and having run out of oxygen to administer in the surgery.
He said he believed the call was downgraded by the ambulance trust ‘due to the mistaken presumed safety of the presence of a doctor and defibrillator’.
The patient survived, but he warned she would have died if she had gone into septic shock.
‘I appreciate there are situations where patient could be safer in a GP surgery rather than elsewhere and this could be taken into account by the ambulance dispatcher.
‘But when we see somebody who we think is really ill, they usually are really ill,’ he said.
Dr Matt Mayer, GPC lead for workload policy, later added: ‘It’s absolutely outrageous that GPs are being put in the position of having to look after incredibly unwell patients who need to urgently be in hospitals.’
A motion calling for GPC England to condemn ambulance services that downgrade calls from GP practices was passed.