An Open Letter to All Australian Paramedics
Re: National Registration and Accreditation Scheme
Dear paramedic colleague,
I write to update you on the latest developments in Paramedics Australasia’s (PA) campaign for the inclusion of paramedics in the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme for health professions.
As you know, over the course of several years we have worked closely with State, Territory and Federal Governments to advocate the importance of including paramedics in the scheme. We have communicated to government at all levels that only national registration will provide appropriate regulation of paramedics across Australia.
PA is of the understanding that this issue will be addressed by State, Territory and Federal Health Ministers at the COAG Health Council meetings on 16-17 April. In anticipation of this discussion PA is again making contact with each Minister to reaffirm our strong support for national registration, as well as a number of other parliamentarians who share an interest in the activities of paramedics and senior health department representatives.
Our message to government is clear: the inclusion of paramedics in the National Scheme will provide essential protection for the public.
Paramedic practice in Australia has evolved substantially over the last two decades from being primarily emergency care and transport providers to now playing an important role in the primary and emergency health system.
It is our firm view that the current regulatory environment does not adequately account for the risk factors associated with the activities conducted by paramedics. These risk factors include advanced invasive procedures, administering scheduled drugs, working away from supervision, providing complex and critical clinical assessments and care, and frequently working in dangerous and uncontrolled settings.
Several additional workplace-related factors have emerged which increase this risk of harm to the public and support the need for an appropriate regulatory response. These include increasing numbers of paramedics working outside state government-related ambulance services, high demand for paramedics and competition in an increasingly diverse national and international labour market, and a rapidly growing group of private sector employers who often work across jurisdictional boundaries.
Inclusion in the National Scheme would mitigate the risks inherent in paramedic services and provide an improved level of protection for the public.
Only those who meet approved educational and practitioner standards would be able to use the title of ‘paramedic’. Qualifications, probity and other appropriate checks would be a condition of initial and continuing practice. Importantly, consistent regulation would apply to all paramedics regardless of their location in Australia.
PA is aware of support for national registration from the West Australian, South Australian, Victorian and ACT Governments. We are confident that other jurisdictions are carefully considering their positions.
Some States have acted to improve the regulatory environment for paramedics by protecting the title of ‘paramedic’ in legislation. The New South Wales Baird Government announced during the recent election campaign that it will introduce legislation for title protection, joining South Australia and Tasmania who introduced title protection in 2014. While we welcome these measures, PA believes that only national registration within the regulated framework of other health professions will provide the appropriate safety net for paramedics and the public.
The support of our members in this campaign is vital, and I thank each of you for your efforts over the last few years. It’s important now to keep up the impetus and make sure government decision-makers are left in no doubt about your position on national registration.
Make sure you follow the PA national registration campaign on Twitter (@ParaRegAU) and Facebook (www.facebook/ParaRegAU) and check our website for updates (www.paramedics.org/registration). Remember to re-tweet, ‘like’ and share our social media updates. Feel free to drop us a line with your thoughts. And if any of your fellow paramedics aren’t following the campaign, get them on board.
The imminent consideration of national registration by government decision-makers represents a once-in-a-generation opportunity to recognise Paramedicine as a key element of health care in Australia and enshrine an appropriate level of protection for the public.
I look forward to briefing you soon on a successful outcome.
Thank you for your ongoing support.
From PA President, Peter Hartley
More information about the Case for National Registration of Paramedics is also available on our site.