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Patients treated by paramedics

8th October 2007

A trial has revealed paramedics can cope well with "non-life-threatening emergencies", which could allow patients to receive emergency care without being taken to hospital.

Ambulance

The British Medical Journal has published details of a trial carried out in South Yorkshire by Sheffield University, which showed patients were very satisfied with their treatment.

Professor Sir George Alberti, who is in charge of the government's review of emergency care, has stated that the delivery of care nearer to patients' homes could be a way of streamlining current emergency treatment services.

In the UK, 999 calls have shown a steady rise of up to 8% annually. However, 50% of patients transported to hospital in an ambulance are discharged without the need for treatment, or are transferred elsewhere.

The study was carried out between September 2003 and September 2004. It comprised 3,018 patients - aged 60 years and over - who had called the emergency services between 8am and 8pm with specific, minor complaints.

The research team said: "The service conveyed considerable benefits for patients and the NHS in terms of reduced overall attendances at an A&E department and hospital, shorter episode times, and higher levels of satisfaction among patients."

The study showed that patients receiving community treatment were nearly a quarter "less likely" to go to A&E department or hospital within 28 days. A Department of Health spokesperson said the "study shows the real value that such extended roles and services can bring for patients."





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