January 2021 will finally see Paramedic registration occurring in New Zealand following the Health Select Committee 2008 recommendations. This has been actively promoted by NZAA for many years as we see it protective of not just the public, but also our members.
Since ambulance services started in New Zealand back in the late 1800s, there has been no coordinated response to the societal changes and requirements of medical practice in New Zealand. With ambulance first starting as basic first aid application to where it stands now, the need to have a single body to coordinate and oversee those who are providing clinical care is imperative. Emergency Medical Services (EMS) has been finally accepted worldwide, and in New Zealand, as a recognised branch of medicine and as such needs to be regulated accordingly.
The discussions that NZAA have had are related to who in EMS should be registered. New Zealand has extensive rural ambulance services that are crewed by BLS ambulance officers (EMTs) – and NZAA argues that regulation needs to address this for the safety of the public. These officers have huge responsibilities, managing critically ill and injured patients in remote areas, far from any advanced support. These responsibilities need to be recognised and managed accordingly. While the responsibility and how this should occur is still up for debate today, NZAA is still driving to have a ‘register’ of EMTs to safeguard both the public and those members who have attained and utilise the qualifications, wherever they practice.
Along with Paramedic registration comes the drive towards professionalism. NZAA prides itself on the stand taken in that true recognition of ambulance officers in the health arena will only come when they display the true values and principles that are acknowledged of the medical professional ethics; autonomy, nonmaleficence, beneficence and justice. To this end NZAA, as the second largest representative body of ambulance officers in New Zealand, will actively promote a professional approach in all its activities, including employment issues, negotiations, legal actions and general day-to-day business.
With registration, like all other health professional bodies, has come the requirement for professional and public liability insurance. NZAA recognises that the New Zealand of today is becoming more demanding of responsibility and accountability and therefore litigious, with much of this judged in retrospect. As such the insurance that NZAA provides access to, we deem to be an essential component sitting alongside registration. While not deemed compulsory in New Zealand, unlike all other western countries, all other medical professional bodies in New Zealand provide it and as such NZAA strongly recommends it to all members.