Paramedics Australasia (PA) Vice President Richard Larsen accompanied by Board Director Nicole Nott and Policy Advisor Ray Bange met with representatives from Health Workforce Australia (HWA) on the 7th March 2012. These meetings were a continuation of previous liaison work with HWA and built on submissions made by PA on Health Workforce Innovation and Reform. Two major HWA projects were discussed: Health Workforce 2025 and Extending the role of Paramedics.

The first meeting was to discuss the extension of a project originally titled the Training Plan for doctors, nurses and midwives. The project name and scope has been changed to Health Workforce 2025 and will include an evaluation of training and other workforce planning requirements for a range of health professionals including ambulance officers/paramedics, dentists and other dental technicians, pathology laboratory staff, personal carers, optometrists, radiologists and psychologists.

The project is in its infancy and there is substantial work to be done in scoping the project which will form the subject of further liaison between HWA and PA.

The second meeting discussed the project work currently being undertaken by HWA on Extending the role of Paramedics.

Discussion centred around various ECP and community based paramedic projects occurring worldwide with sharing of references and resources between PA and the HWA project team. HWA previously had been informed via workshop consultations and submissions regarding some of the issues associated with the use of the term “paramedic” and also considerations about using the term, “extended scope of practice” versus “extended care paramedic”.

HWA will seek expressions of interest to implement extended care projects around Australia. Eight projects will be funded to provide care to patients in their usual place of residence with the goal of reducing emergency department presentations and to complement the care provided by GP’s. Other goals for the projects include enhanced career pathways for paramedics, increasing skills
and confidence of community care workers in managing patients in their usual place of residence and cost effective care.

The project seeks to transfer the successful elements of a previous ECP program to a national landscape. It is envisaged that the project will implement the ECP model at eight sites across Australia from June 2012-June2014 with a rigorous monitoring and evaluation process. The project and evaluation will inform future paramedic workforce investment and development.

Paramedics Australasia nominated a practitioner member to the project reference group and HWA expressed interest in outlining the work of HWA generally and more specifically about progress on the two projects above at the PA national conference in Hobart in November 2012.

Further information on the extended paramedic role program can be obtained from the HWA website or Dr. Rebecca Bilton, Senior Project Officer, Workforce Innovation and Reform here: Rebecca.bilton@hwa.gov.au or phone 08 8409 4566