5 Nov 2019

Plan for paramedics' regulatory body and health practitioner registration

12:36 pm on 5 November 2019

After years of waiting, paramedics will finally have the same recognition as doctors and nurses.

Minister of Health David Clark.

Minister of Health David Clark says the industry has been fighting for regulation under the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act long before 2011. Photo: RNZ / Dom Thomas

The government has announced plans for paramedics to be registered as health practitioners, and the establishment of a paramedic council as a regulatory body for the profession.

Currently there are no regulations in place to stop people setting up as a new paramedic provider, claiming they could act as a full emergency service.

Minister of Health David Clark said this decision would protect all New Zealanders.

"New Zealanders benefit from having the confidence around the paramedics," Mr Clark said. "The paramedics will also have the recognition they deserve.

"They are, everyday, entering life-threatening situations and saving lives and it's entirely appropriate that they can know that all of the peers that they are working to are trained by the same high standard, that the expectation is the same as for them, as for others."

He said the industry had been fighting for regulation under the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act long before 2011.

The Act protects the public by providing mechanisms to regulate health professions that pose a risk of harm to the public.

Mr Clark said he was not sure why this regulation had taken so long, and laid the blame on successive governments.

The regulation will come into effect on 1 January, 2020.

Paramedics at the government's announcement of plans to register those in the profession as health practitioners, and the setting up of a regulatory body.

Paramedics at the government's announcement. Photo: RNZ / Dom Thomas

There are currently 1000 paramedics across the country, but that number is set to increase to 1400 by 2021, which would mean double crews for ambulances.

Mr Clark said the new regulatory body, the Paramedic Council, would be looking to be established in the new year after nominations.

The $1.4 million cost will be shared between the Ministry of Health, ACC, Wellington Free Ambulance and St John.

St John paramedic Johnny Mulheron said he was delighted with the regulation, which brought New Zealand into line with Britain and Australia.

"It's a dynamic and rapidly growing profession, in terms of what we deliver, and this is recognition of that," he said.

Wellington Free Ambulance's Paul Flake said when he joined the profession in 2004, they were told regulation was coming.

"It's taken a few years, but we are just as excited today," he said.

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