(sometimes called emergency care practitioners ECPs)
About paramedics in general practice
Paramedics, or as they are sometimes called primary care emergency care practitioners, are people trained in nursing and paramedic skills. Some GP practices employ paramedics to help care for their patients. In other areas, they are employed by a network of GP practices to support patients across a geographic area. They undertake five years of medical training and are qualified to deal with most everyday health concerns.
What can paramedics offer?
Paramedics work in a variety of roles within general practice. Their background in pre-hospital care means that they are used to working with people with a variety of health conditions – from coughs and minor injuries, to more serious conditions such as asthma and heart attacks. They work alongside GPs to help manage routine or urgent appointments, as well as telephone triage (assessment or urgency of illness or injury) and home visits. Paramedics in primary care can also:
- assess and triage of patients, including same day triage and as appropriate providing definite treatment
- advise patients on general healthcare and promoting self-management
- perform specialist health checks and reviews, perform and interpret ECG’s, undertake investigatory procedures, and they can even perform a blood test.
If a patient has more complicated problems, paramedics can ask the GP or another specialist to help make an appropriate clinical decision.
How do they support GP practices?
Paramedics are able to free up GP time by helping people with less complicated medical need and by offering home visits during the day.
They offer specialist skills and knowledge to support patients who might require an urgent home visit. They can also support patients in the surgery or provide advice over the phone.
Practices can offer more home visiting time and often keep the patient from needing further treatment.
Can paramedics prescribe medication?
Yes, some can, if they have had the required training. If not, they can ask for a GP to confirm a treatment, which can be collected for the patient, or sent to a pharmacy for a patient’s carer/family to collect.
How do I access support from a paramedic?
If you contact your GP practice, they will signpost you to the best person to meet your needs. They may offer a call back to see what support is needed, or they may send out a paramedic if they feel this is appropriate. This is usually for people who cannot get to the GP surgery in person.