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Paramedic prescribers on the way

Can paramedic prescriptions reduce A&E pressure?

Advanced paramedics are the latest allied health professionals to receive prescribing powers.

Legislative changes that came into force on 1 April will allow advanced paramedics to prescribe to patients who do not need to attend hospital.

Until now, paramedics have been allowed to supply or administer a limited number of medications. The law change will see about 700 advanced paramedics receiving training in prescribing for conditions such as back pain (although not at present controlled drugs), urinary tract infections in the elderly and asthma patients who need oral steroids.

Advanced paramedics are already working in GP surgeries to manage urgent same-day appointments, including home visits, and they are also found in emergency departments. The new powers will mean they will not have to refer patients to a doctor if a prescription is necessary.

Chief executive of NHS England Simon Stevens said: ‘Increasing the range of treatments offered by paramedics closer to people’s homes is another significant step in transforming emergency care as ambulance clinicians increasingly become part of community urgent treatment services.’

Further information

BBC News: Paramedics set to prescribe medicines

GuardianTop paramedics in UK gain right to prescribe medicines (includes comments about advanced paramedic practitioners in North London)

NHS England: Better treatment for patients as advanced paramedics prescribe medicines

Royal College of Paramedics: Independent prescribing

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