American medics lend a helping hand

A SHORTAGE of doctors who want to work in Weston has led to the recruitment of staff from America to help plug the gap.

A SHORTAGE of doctors who want to work in Weston has led to the recruitment of staff from America to help plug the gap.

Patients who visit doctors’ surgeries in the resort are now being seen by physician assistants’ who perform many of the same tasks as a doctor.

There are now 30 assistants in the country but the highest concentration is in Weston, which has six.

Physician assistant Amy Yehling, originally from Kansas, came to the resort last year after being recruited with five others by North Somerset Primary Care Trust in New York.


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The 34-year-old said: “It seems it’s been difficult to recruit younger doctors to come here as they often want to go to the larger cities.”

Amy works at Milton Road Surgery alongside Dr Peter Smith, who has worked in the town for 25 years.

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Dr Smith says the lack of cash for patients locally has meant that recruiting GPs has been difficult.

Amy added: “I think Weston is a beautiful part of the country but there is a lot of need for providers, which is why we have been drafted in.”

The physician assistants work alongside GPs and can take medical histories, examine patients, order and interpret tests and diagnose illnesses.

Her colleague, Jonathon Hendricks, works at Weston General Hospital’s accident and emergency department. However, under UK law they cannot sign prescriptions.

Amy says her fellow physician assistants all socialise together despite not knowing each other before they left America.

Sonya Justus works at Cedars Surgery in New Bristol Road, Richard McNamara works at Riverbank Medical Centre in Worle, Kimberly Petryszyn at the Graham Road Surgery and Michele Lyman at Locking Castle Surgery.

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