More doctors needed at scene of emergencies

BMJ 1996; 313 doi: (Published 31 August 1996) Cite this as: BMJ 1996;313:509

A select committee of Britain's MPs have supported more involvement by doctors in the care of victims of accidents before they reach hospital.

In a report to parliament the committee says that the government should take steps to encourage many more general practitioners to work with their local ambulance services in responding to emergencies outside hospital, as in the schemes run by the British Association for Immediate Care (BASICS).

The MPs believe that the volunteer doctors who take part in such schemes should not have to purchase their own specialist equipment. One general practitioner told the Welsh affairs committee that he carries £5000 ($7500) worth of special equipment that he would not normally carry.

In the report, The Training of Ambulance Paramedics, the committee also recommends that doctors who work for the British Association for Immediate Care should be allowed to use blue flashing lights when responding to an emergency. It was told that the flashing green light used by doctors called to emergencies is poorly visible in daylight and badly understood by motorists.

Evidence given by doctors to the committee cast doubt on paramedical practice, with unnecessary treatment given to the patients at the scene of accidents and consequent delays in their transport to hospital.

The committee supports the establishment of a regulatory body for ambulance paramedical staff. Suggestions ranged from a royal college to a system of state registration. The MPs favour a regulatory body for paramedical staff within the Council for Professions Supplementary to Medicine. They say that this would enhance the professionalism of the staff and thus the quality of the ambulance service—JOHN WARDEN, parliamentary correspondent, BMJ

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