Scheme rewarding ambulance staff for GP referrals is axed

An initiative by an ambulance trust to reward its emergency crews with shopping vouchers for referring to a GP has been branded as 'inappropriate' by GPC.

South Central Ambulance Service set up a GP Triage Reward Scheme in Hampshire on 1 March in which staff were given the chance to enter a raffle.

But the scheme was withdrawn after staff raised concerns about patient safety.

GPC negotiator Dr Richard Vautrey said: ‘It shows how sometimes staff can devleop schemes which has not got anyone's best interest at heart.'

He added that he was pleased that the scheme had been shut down.

‘Clearly senior managers realised that it was inappropriate to incentivise staff in this way.  It's about trying to save money rather than anything else,' said Dr Vautrey.

The ambulance trust said the GP triage service presented choice for patients.

‘It enables them to be treated in their own homes where appropriate and prevents the need for unwanted trips to hospital,' it said.

‘We decided to consider the ‘Reward Scheme' in Hampshire as a way of recognising the considerable efforts of staff as we modernised their working practices.'

It would only have applied where medically appropriate, the trust said.

The trust confirmed that the scheme has now been withdrawn with no payments having been made to staff.

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