Today’s question comes from a member of ACT ambulance, but my correspondent is not a paramedic. My correspondent says:
I have been advised at work that our teal green uniforms we wear will have to be changed as it is “illegal” under national registration of paramedics for Communications Officers and ACTAS Patient Transport Officers not qualified as paramedics to wear the uniform as they could be “purported to be paramedics”.
Could you please inject some legal and common sense logic into this verbal opinion please?
I note your previous blogs on registration and lifted this very paragraph from one of your replies;
The Health Practitioner Regulation National Law (as adopted in Victoria) says at s 113:
(1) A person must not knowingly or recklessly—
(a) take or use a title in the Table to this section, in a way that could be reasonably expected to induce a belief the person is registered under this Law in the health profession listed beside the title in the Table, unless the person is registered in the profession, or
(b) take or use a prescribed title for a health profession, in a way that could be reasonably expected to induce a belief the person is registered under this Law in the profession, unless the person is registered in the profession.
Knowingly or recklessly? If I have a uniform that is the same except for the epaulettes saying for example “Ambulance Support Officer” and printed name on back of uniform says “ambulance”, I am not “knowingly or recklessly” putting myself forward as a paramedic. And if the public are mistaken or confused about who is what in the ambulance profession, isn’t that their issue?
S113b states “take or use a prescribed title”. We are not taking or using the title of paramedic.
My uniform does not state I am a paramedic, I submit that this conclusion that uniforms have to be changed is false.
One does wonder how these stories start, and my correspondent is correct. There is no restriction on various uniforms or colours. As my correspondent has noted, the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law protects titles – see Health Practitioner Regulation National Law (ACT) s 113. A green uniform is not a ‘title’.
Further a person who wears a uniform issued by his or her employer where that uniform does not have the title ‘paramedic’ is not ‘knowingly or recklessly’ using the title. If the employer puts some words on the uniform with the intention of misleading people, then it is the employer who is doing the wrong thing.
The point of a uniform is to show that people are part of an organisation and to distinguish ranks and qualifications. If an ambulance service uniform says ‘paramedic’ on the epaulettes and on the back of the uniform issued to paramedics and has other markings on the uniform of other employees to show that they are communications officers, the chaplain, NEPT officers etc there is no use of the protected title.
It may be that, in due course, an ambulance service may choose to vary the uniform of paramedics from others if there is some evidence of confusion. But until then there is nothing in the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law that would compel an ambulance service like ACTAS to change the uniform of its non-paramedic employees provided that their uniform does not say ‘paramedic’ on it.