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UK paramedics could be given the power to prescribe medication to patients in the future to help ease GPs' workloads and enable patients to access treatment faster than is often the case currently.
According to a report published in the Daily Telegraph, the Commission on Human Medicines is at present considering whether giving these powers to paramedics would be beneficial, safe and cost-effective.
Experts are confident that the commission will be in favour of this, meaning it could just be a few months until paramedics are taking on part of the traditional role of GPs.
NHS leaders believe that establishing closer links between paramedics, pharmacies, walk-in medical centres and GP surgeries could help to improve and speed up access to medication for patients.
Statistics show that two-thirds of all emergency 999 calls that need urgent attention are not life-threatening, but still require a prescription of medicine. This usually means that patients have to wait for an appointment with their GP before receiving their medication. However, if paramedics are given prescribing powers, this will no longer have to be the case.
This would not only mean that patients are able to receive medicine significantly quicker than in the past, but also enable them to be treated on the spot.
As a result, GPs will have more time for their own workloads, meaning they could be able to spend longer with their patients - up to half an hour, rather than the current ten-minute slots they have. Such short slots mean that patients cannot always have all of their concerns resolved in one appointment, creating more work and expenditure in the long term.
Speaking to the Daily Telegraph, Simon Stevens, chief executive of the NHS, explained: "Paramedics, clinical pharmacists and mental health therapists can help GPs offer longer appointments for their patients who most need them.
"This is another practical example of how the NHS is going full speed ahead with new and better ways of looking after people."
Written by James Puckle
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