Wondering whether to hire a Paramedic Practitioner?
It’s safe to say that over the last few years recruitment of clinical professionals within Primary Care has changed significantly. What was a predominantly GP and Nurse heavy sector has now grown, with help from the ARRS funding since 2019, to allow other clinicians to become a permanent part of a General Practice team, whether directly employed by the surgery or through the PCN.
With more and more surgeries facing increasing challenges when it comes to recruitment, practices are being encouraged to look at alternative solutions to both make up for the lack of GPs and Nurses and also to ease the pressures on the existing GPs and Nurses and to offer a wider variety of services to patients, with many looking towards Paramedic Practitioners, Clinical Pharmacists, Physician Associates, First Contact Physios among others to offer this variety.
Why a Paramedic/Paramedic Practitioner?
I have specifically chose to focus on the Paramedic role in this article as from my recent experience its seems to be one of the fastest growing positions in Primary Care with many Paramedics showing a very strong interest in becoming part of a GP team and proving to be an asset to a lot of practices that I have worked with.
A paramedic is a highly qualified professional with a degree in Paramedic Science. They often start their career as first responders with the ambulance service working on the frontline. Paramedics can massively support the health management of a community in a variety of ways, by triaging, running both telephone and face-to-face clinics, managing minor illness and injury, as well as taking a lead, in some cases, in any areas which they have developed a specialist interest. In most cases within general practice they will focus on the acute, on the day, urgent appointments, get involved in home visits and potentially be involved in care/nursing home rounds should that be required.
The Paramedic role, probably more so than any other of the Allied Health roles, offer such variety in terms of the “level” of the Paramedic. Paramedics first starting out in Primary Care will often have a fairly even mix of both practice based clinical appointments (often with longer appointment times to begin with) and home visits and will often not be a prescriber. With further experience and training Paramedics can become prescribers by completing their independent prescribing qualification, and start to focus more on the telephone and face-to-face appointments within the practice, shortening the appointment times in the process and reduce the home visiting workload. From here some Paramedics choose to go on to complete their Advanced Clinical Practice (ACP) Masters and in a lot of cases have specific specialist interests in certain areas that they often become the lead clinician on for the practice, bringing them more in line with ANPs working within primary care.
This just highlights that with such variety and the career progression and development within the role, investing in a Paramedic initially and supporting them through further training and development can often result in them being a huge asset to the practice even before they are at ACP level, and with them being able to see acute, on the day, urgent appointments, minor illness/injury etc as well, it can often be a great replacement for an ANP if a practice is struggling to recruit and can certainly ease the workload for other clinicians in the practice.
As for the accurate terminology, are a variety of titles often associated with Paramedics and it comes down to the level of experience the Paramedic has. Most will start their career in Primary Care as a ‘Paramedic’ or ‘Paramedic Practitioner’. Once they have more experience and have gained their independent prescribing they are often referred to as an ‘Advanced Paramedic Practitioner’ or ‘Prescribing Paramedic Practitioner’. Once they are fully qualified with the ACP Masters, they are often referred to as an ‘ACP’ where most practices will view them as equal to an Advanced Nurse Practitioner (ANP).
Some of the benefits of a Paramedic within General Practice:
- Triage patients and see acute, on the day, urgent appointments, minor illness/injury.
- Perform urgent and same-day home visits and potentially care/nursing home rounds.
- Prescribe, issue and review medications (providing they are a prescriber)
- Work either for a single practice or across multiple practices if working for the PCN.
- Perform and interpret ECGs.
- Comfortably see patients of all age ranges – from babies to end of life in most cases.
- Perform specialist health checks and reviews.
- Reduced waiting times for patients – resulting in patients being more satisfied.
- Offers patients access to advice on general healthcare and self-management without taking up the time of a GP.
- Alternative for patients to visiting A&E.
Overall, Paramedics can offer a lot to GP practices or PCNs that are open to the idea. From instantly saving a significant amount of time for GPs and Nurses when it comes to home visits and seeing the acute, on the day appointments to simultaneously giving practices the capacity to improve the skill mix within a team and making more efficient use of a multi-disciplinary workforce.
With primary care services facing unprecedented challenges along with an ever increasing demand from patients, it has resulted in recruitment and retention problems for GP Surgeries across the country. Hopefully with the continued introduction of more Paramedics into general practice, these challenges will be softened somewhat.
If you are a Paramedic looking to make a move into Primary Care or you would like help with recruiting to your practice, get in touch today. You can complete our contact form and we can arrange to call you at a time that suits you. Alternatively, you can call us on 0113 350 1308.
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