The traditional GP home visit could soon be a thing of the past in North Wales, with the task instead performed by paramedics as a means of reducing A&E admissions.
It is one of the proposals being put forward by the North Wales health board, Betsi Cadwaladr, to transform primary care services and free up GPs for daily appointments.
Primary care services in North Wales have been under intense pressure in recent years, with one leading medic warning last year that a "crisis" in GP recruitment was "escalating".
Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board is under direct Welsh Government control and has been in special measures for nearly three years. In that period, the health board has taken over the running of a number of GP practices across North Wales after they terminated their NHS contracts.
Figures released last week showed the number of GPs in Wales are at their lowest since 2013, and one of the areas in Wales where GPs are the least accessible was in North Wales.
Welsh Conservative Shadow Health Secretary Angela Burns said that staff numbers are just as important as pre-emptive methods and that “the Welsh Labour Government’s failure to recruit GPs has led to this situation.”
“Whilst I am pleased to see health boards considering preventative measures to reduce hospital admissions, I do worry about the impact that these proposals could have on continuity of care.
“There will be obvious challenges for paramedics in taking on this role – from a lack of knowledge about the history of a patient, to the very different skill sets required of GPs and their colleagues in emergency care.
“Clearly these proposals will only work if paramedics have access to patient notes and an ability to prescribe appropriate medication.
“But even then, you have to question the sense of redeploying experts in trauma and acute care into other areas.
“These proposals need to be properly thought through, and care must be taken not to place undue additional pressure on the already struggling emergency services – if the real solution is more doctors and nurses, rather than a reshuffle of resources.”
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