The BHA is a charitable organisation promoting and supporting the use of hyperbaric medicine in the British Isles.
The BHA operates a helpline which offers emergency medical advice to divers and healthcare professionals caring for divers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. This service is not commissioned by the NHS and is provided free of charge on behalf of the BHA.
NHS Scotland commission the NHS Scotland National Advice Line which offers emergency medical advice to divers and healthcare professionals caring for divers in Scotland.
In the event of a patient with suspected decompression illness requiring further assessment or treatment, the doctor providing the advice on behalf the BHA may need to refer the patient to a hyperbaric chamber. In doing so the BHA is cognisant of Good medical practice in which the GMC states:
“45. When you do not provide your patients’ care yourself, for example when you are off duty, or you delegate the care of a patient to a colleague, you must be satisfied that the person providing care has the appropriate qualifications, skills and experience to provide safe care for the patient” 1
The BHA has a robust accreditation procedure, which ensures member chambers work within accepted clinical and technical standards and legislation in order to ensure that they deliver hyperbaric oxygen therapy to patients in an appropriate and safe manner.2 This complements the CQC inspection process in that it appraises the technical standards against current best practice to ensure technical safety alongside clinical safety.
It is the view of the BHA that patients who contact the BHA should be referred to a chamber that has been accredited to this standard. We have therefore advised the doctors who provide telephone advice on behalf of the BHA to:
- Refer divers to the nearest appropriate BHA accredited chamber.
- Provide advice to healthcare professionals caring for divers regarding the nearest appropriate BHA accredited chamber.
- Refer those calling from Scotland to contact the NHS Scotland National Advice Line
We believe that this advice is consistent with GMC guidance and similar to other sector associations outside of healthcare promoting best practice within their industries.
- General Medical Council (2013) Good medical practice London, GMC.
- BHA website