Innovative GP service shortlisted for national award

An innovative project that has seen specialist paramedics helping to address challenges faced by Leeds GP practices has been shortlisted for a major national award.

Fifteen practices in Pudsey, north and central Leeds have worked with Yorkshire Ambulance Service (YAS), NHS Leeds Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), Leeds GP Confederation and Health Education England on a test project that sees specially trained paramedics working in GP practices to focus on making house calls.

The specialist paramedics work in groups of five, rotating between general practice, responding to 999 calls in rapid response cars, and working in the 999 Emergency Operations Centre in Wakefield.  The project started in June 2018 and over the first 30 weeks, the team had made 2,282 visits to 1,440 individual patients – and that number continues to grow.

The project has been so successful that it has been shortlisted for a Health Service Journal Value Award in the workforce efficiency category.

Having the paramedic service dedicated to people who are housebound means that more home visits are possible, which relieves pressure on GPs and means that patients can start any treatment much earlier.  Working so closely with practices also means that the specialist paramedics can develop skills and experience that will benefit them when they go back to their roles in the ambulance service.

Clinical lead for the project, Dr Martin Sutcliffe of Alwoodley Medical Centre, said “having the specialist paramedics in practice has been a hugely valuable piece of work for general practice.  Not only have patients benefitted, so have the GPs: they have been able to delegate some of their less complex work and really focus on where their highly advanced skills are best placed.  The paramedic workforce has been capable, adaptive and thorough, providing safe care to patients.

“Practices have noticed that the specialist paramedics have generated an unusually high number of complimentary phone calls to praise their visits, and it seems that their presence on the teams is very much appreciated by patients.

“This is also a hugely valuable piece of work for general practice as we move into the new GP contract being setup by NHS England, where our patients will receive more services from other healthcare professions – we have a huge knowledge and experience base in Leeds now to introduce more professional groups into delivering excellent care.”

Claire Lindsay, Sector Commander (Interim) for Airedale, Bradford and Leeds for YAS, said: “This pilot presents itself with an opportunity for YAS and the wider health economy to work differently moving forward.

“Rotational roles for paramedics are an exciting opportunity which has the potential to retain staff whilst developing their skills and enhancing professional relationships within the primary care setting.

“Our specialist paramedics have been welcomed in the GP surgeries and have benefitted a huge number of patients, with support from GPs. Their care has been recognised on countless occasions by patients sending compliments via the surgeries involved. The specialist paramedic team has worked tirelessly and shown a real commitment to the pilot, and for that we thank them.”