Shropshire GPs to support 999 calls

Dr. Edwin O’Bazee
Image caption About 25 extra GPs have been hired by the Clinical Commissioning Groups

GPs are being sent to deal with 999 calls in a bid to cut hospital waiting times in Shropshire and free up ambulances.

West Midlands Ambulance Service said nearly 2,000 ambulances had waited more than an hour at A&Es across the region this month to hand over patients.

GPs will be sent to provide emergency care in Shropshire and Telford if hospital treatment is not required.

The trial, expected to last six months, will initially run only at weekends.

Caron Morton, from Shropshire's Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), said: "Sometimes what the patient needs is emergency primary care treatment, but not hospital treatment.

"If they need further care that can be arranged between the GP and their surgery."

About 25 extra GPs have been hired by the CCGs, allowing two to be on duty at any one time.

Ms Morton said the trial could be extended beyond six months and in the future possibly include weekdays.

Last week, Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust said hundreds of routine operations were being cancelled due to pressures on A&E and bed shortages.

From April hospitals are also due to be fined for not releasing ambulances quickly enough.

Steve Wheaton, senior manager at West Midlands Ambulance Service, said the situation was at its worst in his 20-year career and response times were being affected.

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