Urgent funding appeal for volunteer emergency GPs

SWIFT team calls for PCT to fund 'invaluable' 24-hour service.

GPs in Wiltshire are appealing for funding for a life-saving service that they currently pay for out of their own pockets.

South Wiltshire Intervention For Trauma (SWIFT) is a team of doctors which works alongside the emergency services. Its members are on call 24 hours a day to back up ambulance teams at accident sites in the county.

PCTs have a statutory duty to provide urgent care, but the group currently receives no funding from the NHS. Instead, the team of seven medics rely on donations and their own wallets to pay for all training, medications and equipment.

They also have to use their holiday time to go on courses and attend training exercises.

'Just £20,000 would transform the scheme overnight,' said Dr Adam Brownhill, a GP in Chippenham who is part of the team. 'But we're not getting help. We're paying for everything out of our own back pocket.'

To cover its costs, SWIFT needs around £1,500 a year for every member of staff. The team is also required to be re-accredited once every four years, at a cost of £1,000 and a week's holiday time.

The group applied for funding as part of the immediate medical care national enhanced service, but was rejected.

Dr Brownhill said the PCT had also turned down his applications for funding to cover a major incident training course, and to pay for a locum to cover his day job while he attends.

Last week, to help raise money, he hosted a quiz in his local pub, The George.

'I shouldn't have to be spending my time ringing round radio shows and putting on charity quizzes to raise money,' he said. 'It's so frustrating that we are providing this invaluable service for nothing.'

Wiltshire PCT said it had not received an application for funding from SWIFT.

A spokeswoman said: 'We would be happy to have a discussion.'

jonn.elledge@haymarket.com

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