Benefits of regulation

What are the benefits of ambulance officers and NZDF medics being professionally registered?

As the principal purpose of the Act is “to protect the health and safety of members of the public by providing for mechanisms to ensure that health practitioners are competent and fit to practise their professions”, the main benefit would be that the public are safer and there is an independent body making sure that registered ambulance officers and medics are competent to practice.

There would be some benefits of regulation to ambulance officers and medics to the operators and to the wider health sector:

  • Standards and qualifications would become more consistent nationwide, across the operators and different areas of the country.
  • The providers of training would be accredited and audited.
  • There would be wider integration of ambulance services into the health sector.
  • There may be more opportunities for operators to deliver a different range of health services such as delivering services on site or in people’s homes, not just transporting people to emergency departments.
  • Coverage may increase access to ACC funding for delivery of services.
  • Overseas practitioners entering the sector would have to meet requirements for training, qualifications and experience.
  • New operators entering the sector will have to meet sector standards.

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What are the benefits for me?

If ambulance officers and NZDF medics were registered under the HPCA Act, you would be recognised for the clinical skills you bring to the health sector.

Being part of the wider health care sector may also open up new opportunities for you to deliver different services.

If there are standard qualifications across the whole sector you may be able to move more easily to other jobs within the ambulance sector and also within the health sector if the position is suitable for someone with your qualifications.

You may also be able to work overseas in countries that recognise and regulate paramedics.

You may have more opportunities for training with other health practitioners from the wider health sector.

You will be a health practitioner in your own right and recognised by the HPCA Act.

In the longer term, you may be able to perform tasks that are currently performed by other health practitioners. For example, the Coroner may allow registered ambulance officers and medics to declare patients deceased at the scene of an accident and thus reduce call outs for General Practitioners.

Those who are not ‘fit to be registered’ would not be able to be part of the sector.

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What are the benefits of regulation for the public?

Regulation would make sure the profession of ambulance officers and medics developed on the same basis nationwide wide, with national qualifications and consistent standards. The Responsible Authority (RA) would be required to set national standards for clinical competence and ethical conduct which would decrease variances in standards across the country.

In other professions it has been noted that one of the benefits of the HPCA Act is that it had a positive impact on the standard of competence of the practitioners covered by the HPCA Act.

The Responsible Authority would be an independent body in the sector focusing on public health and safety and making sure individual regulated clinical personnel are competent to practice. This should increase the safety of ambulance services.

All stakeholders including the public could be involved when the standards are set, as any standards set by the Responsible Authority would have wide consultation before they are put in place.

The Responsible Authority would accredit and monitor the educational institutions which deliver qualifications for those in the sector. This would make sure that the qualifications would fit for purpose and meet the needs of those working in the sector.

Regulation enables sanctions to be put on practitioners who act incompetently, unprofessionally, bring the profession into disrepute or act in an egregious way.

The HPCA Act gives a consistent process for patient complaints to be addressed and a process to deal with concerns about practitioners who may not be competent or fit to practice. This would separate competence issues from those of employment.

The formation of a Responsible Authority would also mean more robust mechanisms for assessing practitioners from overseas who wish to enter the profession.

The Responsible Authority would be required to set cultural competencies that would apply to all those who are registered. This would make sure care is delivered appropriately to all. Some Responsible Authorities have also developed specific guidelines for practitioners working with Maori as a Treaty of Waitangi obligation and to improve health outcomes for Maori.

The Responsible Authority would be able to track all complaints and concerns across the sector and push for improvement in standards in areas where there are concerns about practice. One of the functions of a Responsible Authority is to promote education and training in the sector.

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