Statement from NHA co-leader Dr Clive Peedell
The idea that paramedics will be asked to act as GPs after 4 months of training [http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3198761/Paramedics-16-weeks-training-stand-GPs.html] is deeply disturbing and shows how desperate the Department of Health and NHS England have become in tackling the growing NHS crisis. It shows a total lack of planning which is inexcusable considering the fact that a crisis in General Practice was predicted by the 2010 NHS Risk Register.
It also reveals a total lack of understanding of what General Practice is about. It is a specialty in its own right and the knowledge base required to be a GP is enormous. Hence it takes an average of 11years to train as a GP. A significant part of General Practice involves the management of chronic diseases and conditions, which paramedics will have very little experience of. They would also need a very significant amount of supervision, which could actually create more work for existing GPs.
Moreover, there is already a national shortage of paramedics and a crisis in our ambulance services, with increasing numbers of paramedics quitting their jobs and police sometimes having to cover for them because of a shortage of available ambulances. This latest move will take paramedics away from the emergency frontline where they need to be. It's farcical to be asking paramedics to take on a GP role when they can barely do their own work such is the shortage of staff.
The real solution lies in urgent investment in General Practice and a recruitment drive to fill the current 600 vacancies in GP training places, with 25% unfilled training posts currently.
This is yet another symptom of chronic under-investment in the NHS, which is only set to worsen with the Government's plan for a further £22bn of efficiency savings by 2020.