First-ever paramedic prescriber qualifies

Highlands’ first advanced paramedic practitioner ‘changes whole dynamic’

Tuesday 30th April 2019

Patients in one of the most remote parts of the Highlands are to benefit from a new initiative that will see some prescriptions being written by a specially trained paramedic.

James Macgregor, who became the region’s first advanced paramedic practitioner four years ago, recently became one of the first-ever paramedics to receive a qualification in prescribing, meaning locals will be able to access the medicines they need earlier.

NHS Highland says the initiative is ‘one of the first of its kind in the world’.

The advanced paramedic mirrors the better-known advanced nurse practitioner role. Both see qualified allied health practitioners ease the burden on under-pressure GPs by taking on some tasks like prescribing.

MSPs have called for this model to be used across the country so people can always access out-of-hours GP cover.

Mr Macgregor, who works as part of a ten person-strong rural support team, explained: “Being a prescriber is a huge improvement for me. Before I qualified, my patients would be seen by me, and I would then do an assessment. After that, I would then have to talk to a doctor or GP to get them to sign off the medication. So having this prescribing qualification changes the whole dynamic significantly.”

One of the first people in the world to take on such a role, Mr Macgregor says others are likely to achieve the same qualification in the months ahead:

A fellow paramedic based at the Broadford is likely to qualify by the end of the year. And more paramedic practitioners are applying, so this time next year there could be a whole different dynamic in the rural support team.”