North East Ambulance Service has been selected as one of four ambulance services to take part in a national pilot trialling a model of rotational working for specialist and advanced paramedics.
Advanced practitioners (APs) are a mixture of paramedics and nurse practitioners and are able to use their enhanced clinical skills to provide more community-based treatment and refer patients to alternative services. They also work with the Trust’s Emergency Operations Centre (EOC), supporting patients over the phone and referring them to appropriate services.
Now, as part of a new model being trialled by Health Education England (HEE), they will also begin working within West Road Medical Centre in Newcastle to assist with acute home visits on a rotational basis.
The pilot will run until 31 March 2018.
Steve Adams, clinical services manager, said: “Our APs already work closely with a number of GPs across the region. However, this pilot goes one step further, placing an AP within a GP practice and conducting appropriate home visits.
“Although our APs cannot prescribe to the same level as a GP, their skills mean they may be able to discharge more patients on scene, providing more timely appropriate care as well as saving an emergency ambulance for another patient in need.
“Being part of this national pilot gives us additional support to develop our services and work closely with primary care and other health care professionals, whilst developing our paramedic workforce and sharing our experience and learning with the other pilot sites.”
Lorna Longworth, one of the GPs at West Road Medical Centre, said: “Having skilled paramedics available to support us should provide responsive, quality care for our housebound patients who have an acute illness.
“We hope that it will also provide capacity within the practice to provide much needed time to deal with complex patients and hope that it may facilitate an increased number of appointments with a different member of the healthcare team within the practice.
“A multidisciplinary team brings benefits for staff and patients alike; we are sure we will all learn lots from each other.”
Patrick Mitchell, regional director of Health Education England, said: “This is a really exciting opportunity to invest in and test out a new way of working that will have benefits for many parts of the NHS and, more importantly, for patients.
“We are pleased to be investing in piloting these ways of working, and we look forward to seeing the results.”
Jonathan Benger, national clinical director for urgent care at NHS England, said: “Paramedics have unique attributes, and NHS England will be watching closely to understand what can be achieved when ambulance services, primary care, commissioners and the wider workforce pull together to share and enhance this valuable resource.”