Public Safety

The underpinning reason for national registration of Paramedics is to enhance public safety. Paramedics do an immense amount of good through their advanced clinical interventions. Used inappropriately, those same procedures, drugs and techniques may also rapidly harm or kill a patient. Registration would provide additional public confidence that a Registered Paramedic has appropriate contemporary education, experience, qualifications and authority to practice. A Registered Paramedic would be subject to a system of review to ensure ongoing fitness to practice and a transparent and consistent complaints mechanism by an independent board.

Consumers / Patients

Paramedics provide a unique service in the continuum of Health Care. Patients are often facing a health crisis and at their most vulnerable when a Paramedic is needed. Generally, patients do not have the luxury of researching and selecting a Paramedic of their choice. When the emergency health system is activated, often by ‘000’, the patient must accept those practitioners on the scene. Further, due to injury or illness, the patient may not be able to provide informed consent to treatment. Paramedics often provide care on the basis of ‘implied consent’. This places an additional obligation on Paramedics and government to ensure that a well- managed and regulated standard of care is provided to members of our community at often the most vulnerable time in their lives.

National registration would ensure a consistently high standard of regulation of Paramedics so that minimum standards of competency applied across the nation.

Protection of Title

Currently, anyone can call themselves a Paramedic. In essence, a para / medic is anyone who applies even a bandaid and who is not a medical practitioner. National registration would enshrine in law that only those people who meet the criteria set down by the relevant Regulatory Board under the Australian Health Practitioners Regulation Agency can use the title of Paramedic. Again, this would enhance public confidence and safety. It would also protect the time and financial investment that genuine Paramedics have made to gain their qualifications and achieve registration to practice. A person claiming to be a Paramedic but who is not registered would be guilty of an offence.

Greater Flexibility and Portability of Recognition

National registration would simplify the current situation where a myriad of different training and qualification arrangements make moving between employers complex, expensive and time consuming. A Registered Paramedic would find it much easier to move between employees whether private, public, potentially with the Defence Force or internationally. Ideally, employers should only have to advertise for a Registered Paramedic at some level. Employers would have the confidence that a nationally Registered Paramedic has been independently credentialled. It would simplify and streamline the recognition process and enhance workforce sustainability.

National Standard for Paramedic Service Providers

Paramedic registration specifically affects the individual practitioner. To further enhance public safety, PA believes there should also be a National Regulatory standard governing providers of Paramedic Services. This would create a regulatory framework similar to the Australian Council on Health Care Standards. Comparable systems operate in many other countries such as Ireland under the PHEcc. As a further example, a summary of the New Zealand national standard can be accessed at http://www.verification.co.nz/health/nzs-8156.html

A national regulatory standard would establish independent and transparent accreditation for all organisations providing paramedic care throughout Australia. It should enhance service delivery and provide objective assessment of Paramedic service providers. PA sees that development as a necessary part of an enhanced quality and safety framework for the EMS sector.

The Future

PA continues to work on areas having great potential impact on the profession. These include:

  • Health Workforce Australia examination of the role of Paramedics in the health workforce
  • Health Workforce Australia proposals for prescribing rights for health professions Registered under AHPRA
  • Developing a more extensive body of knowledge through research
  • Potential access to Medicare Provider numbers as registered practitioners
  • Potential access to the national eHealth records systems
  • Access to grants and scholarships consistent with other health professionals