Television this Christmas brought with it much of the same: re-runs of old sitcoms, plenty of movies, the Queen’s speech. Yet one thing caught the eye and raised plenty of interest.
It was a short but significant BBC news item on prescribing paramedics in Wales and how they are freeing up GPs to focus on complex medical conditions by providing quality care for patients with what has been somewhat crudely described as “minor” health problems.
Prescribing paramedics do this by visiting patients in their homes as well as in GP surgeries, assessing their health, providing treatment and writing out prescriptions, thus alleviating the pressure on GPs and hospitals.
“I don’t think there’s any such thing as winter any more. It’s all year pressures. It’s constant now,” said prescribing paramedic Georgina Passmore.
Another prescribing paramedic, Elton Green, said: “Years ago anyone in from 999, typically we take them to one of the EDs, the emergency departments in the hospital, but now we’ve overwhelmed the service.
“We haven’t got an endless supply of ambulances. To try and relieve the pressures, we have to try something different.”
Prescribing paramedics do not see patients with a complex medical history or complex needs but they do treat sore throats, coughs and ear problems. And what makes their work exciting is their ability to go to patients wherever they are.
“We're used to going into people’s homes. We’re not afraid of what’s behind the door, so that’s a reassurance for patients as well because they know what we do,” Georgina said.
“That leaves more ambulances out there to go to the really sick people.”
When it comes to taking prescribing pressures off GPs, paramedics play a critical role. But they are not the only ones.
There hasn’t been too much in the national press about independent pharmacist prescribers who, I dare say, can have just as big an impact on patient health and a creaking NHS as their paramedic counterparts.
It begs the question: why have we not heard more from independent pharmacist prescribers across the UK on the crucial work they do?
If the BBC is not interested in this, we certainly are.
So pharmacist prescribers, tell me your stories by emailing email@example.com
Neil Trainis, editor, Independent Community Pharmacist
Picture: LumiNola (iStock)