A NSW paramedic writes:
With the imminent start of registration for the paramedic profession will ambulance state awards needs to be updated to reflect this new registration board requirements to maintain employment.
The current NSW ambulance Award has no specific requirements to obtaining and maintaining employment as a paramedic to being registered.
If an individual does not apply for registration then the current award would not be breached and so the employment of that officer must continue without registration.
Yet at the same time use of the term paramedic and employment in that role would presumably be in breach of some other award or standard under which the registration board has been created.
If the ambulance award needs to be updated to cover a requirement to obtain and maintain registration this would take time as any change to the award must be negotiated and approved by the relevant unions, employers and industrial bodies.
No such negotiation has yet apparently started, which raises the question what happens when registration comes into effect.
It’s true that the Operational Ambulance Officers (State) Award (NSW) does not deal with registration. It says (p. 4) that a person is a paramedic if they are:
… an employee who has successfully completed the necessary and relevant training and work experience as determined by the Service to become a Paramedic and who is appointed to an approved Paramedic position. Provided that such an employee shall be required to undertake and successfully complete further instruction/in-service courses necessary for the maintenance of their clinical certificate to practice and the reissue of their clinical certificate to practice every three (3) years.
In Queensland (Ambulance Service Employees Award – State 2016 (Qld), p. 44) a paramedic is:
(a) … an employee [of QAS] who provides a high standard of pre-hospital emergency patient care and the provision of ambulance transport services for members of the community.
(b) A Paramedic must possess at least a Certificate IV in Basic Emergency Care or Associate Diploma of Applied Science (Ambulance) with no additional skills or qualifications or recognised equivalent (as determined by the QAS Commissioner) at the Paramedic P1 skill level.
Once registration comes into effect only a person who is registered with the Paramedicine Board as a paramedic will be able to use that title. Just that one example makes it clear that these awards will have to change to reflect the changing nature of what it is to be a paramedic.
The use of the term ‘paramedic’ by someone who is not registered will be an offence under the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law (see Is ‘Doctor’ a protected title? (February 14, 2018)) but the National Law does not set details of scope of practice or the like so there is no offence to practice paramedicine, or nursing, or as a medical practitioner – only an offence to use a protected title. So a person who is currently employed as a paramedic but who, for whatever reason does not register, could keep doing what they are doing, they just couldn’t call themselves ‘a paramedic’. So the use of the ‘term’ is a breach of the national law, not an award. But continuing in the role will lead to interesting industrial issues because, no doubt, the Ambulance Service will need (or want) to amend the award to say that a paramedic must be a registered paramedic but where does that leave a person who’s been performing their job under the current award, but who doesn’t want to register?
I can’t say what will happen when registration comes into effect, but it is something ambulance services should certainly be discussion with their employees.