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Paramedics to prescribe drugs following change in law

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By vfiore
3 April 2018

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Hundreds of advanced paramedics will start prescribing medicines as early as 2019 in a bid to take the pressure off hospitals and GP practices, NHS England has said.

Around 700 advanced paramedics will be able to prescribe medication to patients who do not need hospital treatment, following an amendment to the human medicines regulations (2012), which came into force yesterday (1 April).

Hundreds of advanced paramedics will start prescribing medicines as early as 2019 in a bid to take the pressure off hospitals and GP practices, NHS England has said.

Around 700 advanced paramedics will be able to prescribe medication to patients who do not need hospital treatment, following an amendment to the human medicines regulations (2012), which came into force yesterday (1 April).

Registered paramedics already supply and administer some medicines for their patients, but the amendment will allow them to write prescriptions, upon conclusion of rigorous training programmes.   

Free up doctors’ time

Paramedics working at emergency departments ‘will also be able to prescribe medicines, which will free up doctors to see more needy patients’, said NHS England.

As paramedics become part of community urgent treatment services, allowing them to prescribe medicines to those who do not necessarily need to go to the hospital will allow reducing the number of people going to A&E.

NHS England said that ‘up to seven out of 10 patients seen by urgent care advanced paramedics may need help but do not necessarily need to go to hospital’.

For instance, ‘elderly patients with urinary tract infections, people with back pain requiring relief or asthma patients could be helped with a course of oral steroids’ without having to go to the hospital.

The decision to give enhanced prescription freedom to trained paramedics comes after a NAO report last month revealed that just under a quarter of emergency admissions last year could have been avoided if better community and urgent care level were provided.

Cut delays

Commenting on the change of legislation, many health leaders agreed that having paramedics to prescribe medicines will allow patients to get quick access vital medicines.

Health minister Lord O’Shaughnessy said: ‘We strongly welcome the expansion of independent prescribing to paramedics. This will allow the NHS to make full use of its highly skilled workforce, ease pressure on other key services and improve care by ensuring patients have quicker access to vital medicines and can start treatment without delay.’

Chief executive of the UK Sepsis Trust, Dr Ron Daniels said: ‘Timely identification and treatment of sepsis can mean the difference between life and death, so better access to healthcare professionals who can make accurate diagnoses and prescribe antibiotics where appropriate is an important provision.’

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