EMERGENCY patients can now be treated with high-strength pain killers after Yorkshire Air Ambulance paramedics were given permission to administer the drugs.

Until recently, only doctors were able to administer ketamine.

However, a change in the rules means emergency staff may now give the powerful drug to patients in severe pain, if approved by an on-call doctor.

Air ambulance medical adviser and consultant anaesthetist Dr Jez Pinnell said: “At the moment, paramedics can give people morphine and entonox and splint fractures. But if a patient has multiple fractures and is in severe pain, those drugs and interventions are just not strong enough to provide effective relief.

“Now, strict protocols have been put in place to enable the air ambulance paramedics to administer low doses of ketamine, which is really good news for the patient and for the paramedic.”

He said: “There is nothing worse than having a patient in a lot of pain who you can’t help.”

Freedom to administer ketamine will mean people with painful injuries such as multiple fractures, who could be trapped in a vehicle for some time before they can be airlifted to hospital, will have access to stronger pain relief.

Dr Julian Mark, the service’s executive medical director, said: “We work in close partnership with the Yorkshire Air Ambulance charity and are committed to providing patients with the very best clinical treatment. This development is further evidence of the ongoing improvements we are making in major trauma care.”

Paramedics in the service’s hazardous area response team have also been given the go-ahead to administer ketamine.