Thank you to Gary Strong, Education & Training Manager, Wellington Free Ambulance, for providing this blog:


The time has come…


Around ten years ago, paramedics in the UK were debating registration and whether it was a good thing. Most of us thought it was, but we didn’t know why. Now in New Zealand we have the same opportunity, and I say go for it! The information you are receiving and reading about regulation under HPCA is clearer and better presented than anything that was available to us in the UK, so here I expect us to have a very well informed debate. Now whether you say regulation or registration, the end result is the same, and the primary purpose is to safeguard the interests of the patient. That’s cool – in any aspect of healthcare, the most important question is always ‘is it better for the patient?’ But it’s also fair to ask of registration ‘is it better for the paramedic?’


To help you think about this, consider a few of the developments and opportunities that have opened up for UK paramedics since registration became a legal requirement:




•    The UK has its first professor of paramedicine, and one provider has a medical director who is described as a ‘consultant paramedic’. The British Paramedic Association, the highly influential body which represents the interests of paramedics to their regulatory body and to policy makers, is led entirely by paramedics.


Influencing healthcare policy and practice  

•    When the UK government decided a National Stroke Strategy was needed, paramedics were invited to join other professionals in leadership training, review of community and hospital services and the writing of national guidelines. A typical review body will see paramedics working alongside specialist stroke physicians, nurse consultants, physiotherapists and other professionals to ensure that the whole process, from collapse to rehabilitation, gets the best result for the patient.


Career Opportunities


•    In addition to their traditional role, you will find UK paramedics working in and for multidisciplinary urgent care centres, GP practices and even in specialist hospital units.


Patient Care


•    Ten years ago UK paramedics moved away from protocols towards national, evidence based guidelines – just as we are now in New Zealand. The regulatory body is very clear that it is the responsibility of the registrant, i.e. paramedic, always to do what is best for the patient, ethically and legally as well as clinically. Now there is recognition that sometimes guidelines are not enough to meet patient need, so for example, there is a move to expand the legal framework for paramedicine and allow prescribing rights for suitably educated paramedics.


Anyone who knows anything about paramedics in New Zealand will know that we are a highly skilled and fast growing profession. I want the rest of the healthcare industry here to wake up to all that we have to offer! I’m not saying that all of these exciting developments will necessarily happen in New Zealand. But we can begin to make them happen if we are a regulated profession.


Gary Strong

Education & Training Manager

Wellington Free Ambulance


PS useful link relating to my blog entry