The Association of Ambulance Chief Executives (AACE) will be voicing its concerns to NHS England about the impact on the paramedic workforce of the recommendations in the Framework for GP Contract Reform published by NHS England and the British Medical Association on 31 January 2019 – a document which is designed to support the implementation of the NHS Long Term Plan.
The framework seeks to address the challenges of an over-stretched GP workforce and clearly recognises the significant contribution that paramedics can make to increasing capacity and providing appropriate patient care within the primary care setting.
While AACE believes this is good news for the paramedic profession and for health systems challenged by increasing primary and urgent care demand, there is also no doubt that the suggested widespread utilisation of paramedics directly employed in GP practices poses a risk to ambulance service workforce capacity.
The proposals in the framework suggest enlarging the paramedic workforce in primary care, but do so in a way that presents a threat to:
- The new service model described in the Long-Term Plan designed to provide joined up care and enhanced staff wellbeing;
- Workforce capacity for NHS ambulance services;
- The stability of urgent and emergency care systems across England;
- Establishing new models of urgent and emergency care designed to provide care closer to home and reduce pressure on hospitals.
Anna Parry, Deputy Managing Director of AACE says:
Paramedics being attracted away from NHS ambulance trusts by seemingly more favourable roles and terms in primary care is already an issue that AACE has been endeavouring to mitigate as the paramedic workforce is already under-capacity.
We have been working with Health Education England to evaluate the feasibility and benefits of rotational paramedic roles, which have the potential to offer one solution to this issue. We need to pursue all potential measures to improve retention of paramedics, including further increasing the numbers graduating each year, as a matter of urgency.
AACE is committed to continuing to play a proactive part in working with colleagues across the NHS to address the workforce challenges we all currently face and collaboratively to find solutions to these challenges.”