The inaugural Paramedicine Board of Australia (PBA) was announced in late October in a communiqué published by the Health Council of the Council of Australian Governments.
Health ministers appointed a nine member Board:
- Associate Professor Stephen Gough ASM as practitioner member from Queensland and National Board Chair
- Ms Clare Beech as practitioner member from New South Wales
- Mr Keith Driscoll ASM as practitioner member from South Australia
- Associate Professor Ian Patrick ASM as practitioner member from Victoria
- Miss Angela Wright as practitioner member from Western Australia
- Mr Howard Wren ASM as practitioner member from a small jurisdiction – the Australian Capital Territory (ACT)
- Ms Carol Bennett as community member from the ACT
- Mrs Jeanette Barker (nee Evans) as community member from New South Wales
- Ms Linda Renouf as community member from Queensland.
Health Ministers stated that they are “confident of the Board’s ability to successfully manage the transition of the paramedicine profession into the National Scheme, in partnership with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA), and that appointed community members will bring a lay perspective and voice to the Board and have strong connections in regional, metropolitan and Indigenous communities – overall, members have a depth of leadership, regulatory, governance, communication, business, tribunal/legal and policy experience”.
Paramedics Australasia is pleased with the announcement and the make-up of the Board and is delighted with the appointment of long-serving past president, Ian Patrick, to such a senior role within the profession.
While the scheduled ‘participation’ date for paramedic registration is 1 September 2018, this date is still to be prescribed by regulation by the new Board.
The new Board has an enormous workload in its first phase of operation, with many of its decisions to shape the structure, function and nature of the paramedic profession for a generation to come.
The Board has a number of administrative formalities to undertake and complete before actually addressing the issues that will impact on operational paramedics and their employers. The foundational Health Profession Agreement between the PBA and AHPRA must be negotiated and finalised prior to the Board’s commencement – this agreement details the annual budget and services to be provided by AHPRA that enable the Board to carry out its functions under the National Law while an Instrument of Delegation is required to allow the Board to delegate functions to other organisations and entities where it sees fit.
The agenda tabled at the inaugural PBA meeting will make interesting reading. While it may not be the first item on the agenda, the deliberations around scheduled fess will be one that will affect all prospective registrants. As the fifteenth and newest profession, a ‘one-off’ initial application fee will more than likely be required in conjunction with the annual fee. The Board will prescribe the fee after analysing the budget, assessing the complexities of the process and the number of potential registrations in the first year. In comparable occupations, registration fees range from $150 (nursing) to $724 (medicine).
The substantive agenda items for the new Board that will have the most significant impact on the sector will involve base endorsement to practice levels, grandparenting provisions and educational accreditations.
The new Board will need to establish a base level of educational qualification to allow access to paramedicine registration and, most importantly, the sibling extension to that level, being what relevant experience is appropriate to allow a currently practising paramedic to access the registration regime if they do not meet the base endorsement requirements from a formal educational perspective. While, importantly, these ‘grandparenting’ assessments are decided on a case-by-case basis, the new Board will more than likely set reasonably standardised benchmarks due to the large number of potential applicants who will fall into this category in the early phase of the program.
The bigger picture around the accreditation of university degree courses in paramedicine throughout Australia will certainly lead to some review and adjustments as the PBA undertakes this fundamentally important task. Questions such as nationally consistent and aligning curricula, and the mandatory number and types of clinical placement hours to be ‘role ready’ will be just a few of the vexed questions to be assessed by the Board or its delegated agency when deciding the way forward for paramedic education in Australia.
Paramedics Australasia will continue to partner with paramedics on this road to greater professionalism throughout the registration process. We will keep you informed of the key developments as they occur and remember to avail yourself of the National Registration Hotline (toll free 1300 077 00) and dedicated email support service.
Chair, National Registration Working Group