Regulation and the employer

If ambulance officers and NZDF medics were registered under the HPCA Act, this means they are regulated in the same ways as other health sector professions could help to increase coordination of care across the ambulance sector and with other health services and so improve patient outcomes and safety.

If those working in the ambulance sector are recognised as registered health care providers, ambulance services may be more likely to be included in discussions about different models of delivering pre hospital and primary health care. This may open up new avenues for funding and new opportunities for delivering different services.

For example it may give entitlement to a different basis for funding from the health budget delivering ‘on site’ services in the community or to work in different ways with District Health Boards to reduce use of emergency departments which in turn will have benefits for the heath sector as a whole.

Regulation would provide an opportunity to gain alternative funding from ACC, as it usually links funding for “treatment providers” to health professionals covered by regulatory authorities and scopes of practice.

Under regulation it is more likely those entering the profession would gain a qualification before they are employed in the sector , which happens with other health professionals, rather than depending on the employer to provide clinical education. This is already a trend in the in the ambulance sector.

On the other hand, the cost of funded the Annual Practising Certificate (APC) is covered by the employer, as happened elsewhere in the sector, this may mean there is less money to address other needs in the sector.

Employers would need systems to make sure clinical people who are registered hold an up to date Annual Practicing Certificate and that the practitioner works within their regulated scope of practice.

The Responsible Authority would be involved in some matters that now are dealt with internally by the employer such as:

  • Making sure all ambulance officers and medics are competent to practice within their scope
  • investigating complaints about registered practitioners, which may be done differently or more slowly than the employer
  • Requiring registered practitioners to refresh certain skills or gain further skills if this has been shown to be necessary.

Most existing Responsible Authorities work with employers to solve matters of mutual concern and nothing an Responsible Authority does could prevent the employer fulfilling its employer responsibilities as it sees fit.