Triple 000 here, will that be paramedic or taxi?

This news items sounds like a victory for common sense.

Paramedics given power to send patients to GPs in NSW crackdown trial

People on the New South Wales central coast calling an ambulance for trivial matters such as tooth aches will be taken to their local doctor instead of hospital in a new trial.  The trial will give paramedics the power to decide whether a case warrants a hospital visit or a trip to a general practitioner (GP). The move has come out of recommendations from an Auditor-General’s report and is designed to relieve pressure on emergency departments.

Ambulance Service deputy commissioner Mike Willis says it will mean less time wasted on more trivial ailments.

“Sadly sometimes people call paramedics to their home for trivial things such as sore teeth, or in fact they’ve run out of their medication. That’s not what paramedics are for, that’s what taxis are for. This trial is designed to take those patients who are not life threatening and have low acuity illnesses direct to their GP where they can be assessed.”

It seems to me that the trial is still going to have paramedic crews acting as taxis. Instead of taking someone to an ED they are being taken to a GP. Maybe the ambulance service could just hand out taxi vouchers which can just be used to attend a health practitioner? Be it doctor, dentist or pharmacist…… iridologist, nutritionist, chiropracter??

I do see a problem for the paramedic crew as to which GP the patient may be taken to. I’m certain AHPRA would take a very dim view of any GP-paramedic collusion.

There seems to be a difference in what is an ambulance from state to state. A 2010 paper by Eburn and Bendall (The provision of Ambulance Services in Australia: a legal argument for the national registration of paramedics. Australasian Journal of Paramedicine, 2010; 8(4)) gives some background on the situation. Another example of how the laws of each Australian state differ (for no good reason) and can create confusion!

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