… question relates to the upcoming changes to Victorian rules re first aid.
What will define when a doctor who is already able to practice under their registration will need to be approved under the new rules and how will this affect nurses who provide “nurse services” for example on a film set or event even though it is really a first aid service.
Likewise how will it affect a registered Paramedic in the same situation
The Non-Emergency Patient Transport and First Aid Services Act 2003 (Vic) will say (when the changes made by the Non-Emergency Patient Transport Amendment Bill 2021 (Vic) come into force):
A person must not operate a first aid service unless that person holds a first aid service licence
A first aid service will be ‘a service of offering or providing first aid in exchange for payment’. First aid will mean ‘aid of a medical nature provided to a person experiencing sudden illness or injury’. A first aid service provider will need to apply for a licence. The Non-Emergency Patient Transport and First Aid Services (First Aid Services) Regulations 2021- Exposure Draft says that there will be three classes of services –
(a) basic first aid service;
(b) intermediate first aid service;
(c) advanced first aid service.
There are prescribed levels of experience for people who are to be employed by a first aid service provider, including standards for enrolled nurses, registered nurses, paramedics and medical practitioners.
An advanced first aid service will be
… a service that provides the first aid services to patients … who have—
(a) acute trauma injuries; or
(b) spinal injuries; or
(c) life-threatening injuries or illness; or
(d) life-threatening drug overdoses.
One might imagine that an ‘advanced first aid service’ will be staffed by registered health professionals.
What follows is that paramedics, nurses and doctors who are providing ‘a service of offering or providing aid of a medical nature provided to a person experiencing sudden illness or injury, in exchange for payment’ will need to hold a first aid licence.
There are exemptions from the need for a licence. Specifically the Act will provide that the following people are not providing a first aid service ‘an individual who provides first aid in the course of their work at a hospital, medical clinic or allied health service’ and ‘a medical clinic or allied health service’. A doctor staffing a clinic, or a local public hospital emergency department does not require a first aid licence if they are providing medical care to ‘a person experiencing sudden illness or injury’.
There could, no doubt, be disagreement over whether a medical practitioner is providing a first aid service or staffing a medical clinic that happens to be ‘on site’ of an event. Those matters will have to be determined by the Department and ultimately by a court. But given the regulations to give effect to the scheme are currently open for consultation, it is also open for those who think they may be affected by the new scheme to make submissions to clarify how to distinguish between a ‘medical clinic’ and a ‘first aid service’.
It is the clear intention that the new licensing scheme for first aid service providers will apply even where the clinicians are registered health professionals – doctors, nurses and paramedics.