PA has recently reviewed the legislation proposed in the NSW Health Services Amendment (Paramedics) Bill 2015. While this legislation is a positive step for improved patient safety, it is well short of the benefits provided under a National Registration and Accreditation Scheme (NRAS).
Key PA Concerns regarding the Bill
In the proposed legislation the definition for a paramedic is provided. PA has a number of concerns about this definition, as identified below.
According to the legislation
“A paramedic means:
(a) a person who holds qualifications, or who has received training, or who has experience, prescribed by the regulations, or”
We appreciate that we have not yet seen the proposed regulations for this legislation, however, we strongly believe that the minimum acceptable educational qualification for a paramedic is a bachelor degree in paramedicine. We support a grand-parenting/sunset clause for other qualifications that currently exist in the same way the South Australian legislation recognises diplomas and advanced diplomas only until February 2017.
We are also concerned that the draft legislation uses ‘OR’ when referring to qualifications, training and experience. This would seem to indicate that the paramedic title can be used by anyone with a qualification OR training OR experience which creates a very broad inclusion statement and in effect does very little to protect the tile, or the public.
“(b) a person who is authorised under the legislation of another Australian jurisdiction to hold himself or herself out to be a paramedic, or”
This statement further makes the definition of a paramedic in NSW too broad and does not protect the public. The reason for this is that in every state or territory other than South Australia and Tasmania, currently, anyone is authorised under legislation to call themselves a paramedic because there is no legislation stating that they can’t. Therefore, these “paramedics” from other states would be able to call themselves paramedics in NSW regardless of their education, training, or experience.
“(c) a member of staff of the Ambulance Service of NSW, or other person, who is authorised by the Health Secretary to hold himself or herself out to be a paramedic.”
This clause is the most concerning for us. In effect, this clause authorises the NSW Ambulance Service to employ any individual with any qualifications and call them a paramedic. We believe the fundamental philosophy of title protection legislation is that all practitioners are covered by exactly the same legislative and regulatory requirements. Therefore, the state provider of an ambulance service should employ paramedics who meet the same standards for education and experience as any other employer of paramedics in NSW. Once again, we support the inclusion of a grand-parenting provision to include those individuals currently working as paramedics with the NSW Ambulance Service.
We believe that all definitions and any exemptions for education, qualifications, and experience of paramedics should be covered in the regulations, not the legislation.