A GROUND-BREAKING pilot scheme is introducing paramedics as part of NHS Dumfries and Galloway’s Out of Hours (OOH) service.
Two Specialist Paramedics with the Scottish Ambulance Service will support the region’s OOH service as part of a collaborative six-month pilot project
The Out of Hours Service delivers medical help outside of general practice opening times.
Service manager Mark Sindall said: “There have been significant challenges with the Out of Hours service – there’s a shortage of staffing both locally and nationally around GPs and then a commitment to supporting the service.
“We felt that we needed to do something different, so we are looking at different ways of working, looking at a wider multi-disciplinary team that can support that service for the future.
“This is a fantastic opportunity to work with the Scottish Ambulance Service, integrating our services in order to provide the best level of patient care in the community.”
Specialist Paramedics are advanced practitioners who have completed post-graduate education in urgent and emergency care. This enables them to see and treat more patients at home, referring them for appropriate follow-up when necessary in addition to responding to emergency calls.
The project is a major part of the Scottish Ambulance Service’s 2020 strategy, Taking Care to the Patient.
Michael Harmjanz is Area Service Manager for Dumfries & Galloway (West) area, and he explains: “We have a service throughout Scotland, and it’s part of our 2020 vision to improve the access to healthcare within the community, to avoid unnecessary admissions to hospital and to give people the choice to be managed in their homes rather than having to go to hospital when its clinically appropriate and safe to do so.”
Dr Nitin Desai is the Out of Hours clinical lead in Dumfries and Galloway.
He explains that paramedics involved at this point are Specialist Paramedics, able to take on additional responsibilities working in a multi-disciplinary team with a GP as its lead clinician.
The Dumfries and Galloway Out of Hours team also currently includes two trainee Advanced Nurse Practitioners who are on placement over the next two years, and prescribing pharmacists who are also able to work independently within the service.
Dr Desai said: “At peak times on weekends or public holidays when we know there are often a lot of medications queries and requests, we thought it would be reasonable to have a prescribing pharmacist who could tackle those things.
“But the pharmacists that we have at the moment are ones who have had some training in physical examination, and so they are dealing with some common clinical conditions in the Primary Care Centre – dealing with skin conditions, ears, throats, that kind of thing.”
Addressing the move towards a multi-disciplinary team, he added: “This would have been the way of the future anyway, but it’s just speeding things up quite a bit, and now we have the right people, with the right skills, dealing with the right patients at the right time.”