Paramedics could be granted the power to prescribe medication in a bid to cut down on thousands of unnecessary hospital visits and free up GPs, it is reported.
Proposals were last mooted two years ago to give certain paramedics who have undergone advanced training the ability to prescribe independently.
The Daily Telegraph reported the issue is currently again under consideration by the Commission on Human Medicines – the body advising ministers – and is expected to find in favour of the changes.
The plan would mean many more patients are treated on the spot, and could give GPs enough time to see other patients for up to half an hour instead of the usual 10-minute slots.
NHS chief executive Simon Stevens told the paper: “Paramedics, clinical pharmacists and mental health therapists can help GPs offer longer appointments for their patients who most need them.
“This is another practical example of how the NHS is going full speed ahead with new and better ways of looking after people.”
Around two-thirds of 999 calls involve conditions which need urgent attention but are not life-threatening, the paper said.
But current legal restrictions mean patients are routinely referred to hospitals or forced to wait for a GP visit before they can access their medication.
A pilot scheme in Lancashire found paramedics could deal with two thirds of the home visits they were sent on, liaising with GPs about the remainder of the cases, with just 10% brought to hospital.