New Zealand paramedics are to be officially recognised as health professionals under a new plan announced by Minister for Health, David Clark.
Dr Clark said the Government has agreed to regulate more than 1,000 paramedics under the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act 2003.
He said the purpose of Act was to protect the public by providing mechanisms for independent authorities to regulate health practitioners, with more than 20 regulated professions.
“Paramedics are usually the first on the scene when we suffer a medical emergency and they do great work saving thousands of lives each year,” Dr Clark said.
“These long overdue changes will ensure the high professional standard to which they currently work will be maintained and enhanced into the future.”
He said that putting a similar level of regulation in place to that for other key health professionals gave assurance that paramedics were appropriately qualified and competent to practise.
“With that assurance in place, paramedics will continue to play a key role in frontline health settings, especially in rural areas where timely decisions and actions can be critical to preserving life,” Dr Clark said.
He said the regulation would come into effect on 1 January 2020, but it would take some time to establish a governing council and start registration.
“Nominations for members of the new Paramedic Council will be sought early in the New Year. Once the new council is established, it will spend some time setting up the new standards and processes required before all paramedics have to be registered,” the Minister said.