Union criticises plan for on-the-spot treatment by paramedics

Plans for trained paramedics to treat patients on the spot, rather than taking them by ambulance to hospital, have come under fire from union leaders.

The government-backed review – published this week – claims that one million patients are taken to A&E departments unnecessarily, and proposes giving paramedics new skills to extend care for patients.

But Ray Carrick, assistant general secretary of the Ambulance Service Union, told the BBC that staff had concerns about the scheme. He said: “For it to work well, the scheme is going to be utterly dependent on the information that is passed from the call to our control room.

“So when somebody dials 999, what they tell our control is what everything is going to be based on, and that is not always accurate.”

Carrick said the new paramedics were likely to be experienced existing staff, but warned of potential skills shortages. “When they are taken out to do a training programme three or four months long, they will have to be covered … and there are only so many people we can draw on to fill those vacancies,” he said.

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