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Specialist "critical care paramedics" could save lives

Posted on 14/11/2011

Highly trained specialist paramedics who respond to serious 999 calls and treat patients with the help of “virtual doctors” could save lives without crippling NHS budgets, according to a study by Royal Holloway, University of London.

Dr Ashok Jashapara, from Royal Holloway’s School of Management, analysed a pilot scheme by the South East Coast Ambulance NHS Trust (SECAmb) to introduce CCPs who are deployed to treat seriously ill or high trauma patients. SECAmb developed the new CCP role in response to numerous national reports critical of sub-standard pre-hospital care for seriously ill and injured patients, and the need to save more lives.

The study also assessed the trauma systems used in countries such as the United States, Canada, Australia and other countries which have shown to reduce mortality by 15 to 20 per cent.

Dr Jashapara found that the use of specialist “Critical Care Paramedics” (CCPs) could contribute towards the 450-770 preventable deaths in England each year.

He explains: “In order to save more lives, highly trained professionals are required to deliver care on the ground. Who actually does this, be they a doctor or CCP, isn’t important. With budgets a big consideration in the NHS today, we found that CCPs would be the most cost effective option as they are less expensive than doctors.”

The study recommends developing paramedics at CCP level in the field, with doctors providing medical support via virtual video conferencing to offer clinical governance and advice when required as part of a multi-professional team approach.

It also said that sending high-risk patients directly to the best-equipped hospitals or trauma centres in the region would also contribute to reducing mortality rates.

Dr Jashapara says: “To make a significant contribution to reducing mortality rates, there needs to be more effective organisational arrangements of trauma and critical care systems in order to take patients to the right trauma or specialist centre in good time. Pre-hospital arrangements can be achieved most cost effectively by implementing critical care paramedic schemes to serve the most seriously ill and injured patients.”


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