Background: General practice in the UK faces continuing challenges to balance a workforce shortage against rising demand. The NHS England GP Forward View proposes development of the multidisciplinary, integrated primary care workforce to support frontline service delivery, including the employment of paramedics. However, very little is known about the safety, clinical effectiveness, or cost-effectiveness of paramedics working in general practice. Research is needed to understand the potential benefits and drawbacks of this model of workforce organisation. Aim: To understand how paramedics are deployed in general practice, and to investigate the theories and drivers that underpin this service development. Design & setting: A mixed-methods study using a literature review, national survey, and qualitative interviews. Method: A three-phase study was undertaken that consisted of: a literature review and survey; meetings with key informants (KIs); and direct enquiry with relevant staff stakeholders (SHs). Results: There is very little evidence on the safety and cost-effectiveness of paramedics working in general practice and significant variation in the ways that paramedics are deployed, particularly in terms of the patients seen and conditions treated. Nonetheless, there is a largely positive view of this development and a perceived reduction in GP workload. However, some concerns centre on the time needed from GPs to train and supervise paramedic staff. Conclusion: The contribution of paramedics in general practice has not been fully evaluated. There is a need for research that takes account of the substantial variation between service models to fully understand the benefits and consequences for patients, the workforce, and the NHS.
Schofield, B., Voss, S., Proctor, A., Benger, J., Coates, D., Kirby, K., …Booker, M. (2020). Exploring how paramedics are deployed in general practice and the perceived benefits and drawbacks: a mixed-methods scoping study. BJGP Open, 4(2), bjgpopen20X101037. https://doi.org/10.3399/bjgpopen20x101037