Wednesday 22 February 2023
Despite the Australian government’s acknowledgement of the need to support innovative ways to deliver improved healthcare in communities and ease the burdens on hospital emergency departments and ambulance services, paramedics continue to remain a key overlooked workforce.
As Federal Health Minister Mark Butler traverses the country announcing broader support for nurses and GPs, paramedics - and the important role they can play in alleviating those health system and health workforce challenges - remain unseen, unheard and unrecognised.
This was echoed in Mr Butler’s announcement of the opening of five Medicare Urgent Care Clinics in South Australia to ease pressure on the state’s hospitals, which again failed to mention paramedicine. And while the Australasian College of Paramedicine (the College) supports initiatives to bolster the health workforce and welcomes the shift toward more team-based healthcare provision, the continued omission of paramedics as one of the touted integrated workforces again represents a missed opportunity to significantly improve community health and wellbeing.
On the back of the Grattan Institute’s December report, which identified paramedics and community paramedicine as an integral component of a new health landscape, and with Medicare reform efforts set to move ahead in the coming months, the College urges Mr Butler to expand his current conceptualisation of multidisciplinary healthcare and support viable models of co-designed, GP-led, integrated models of practice. Those team-based models should be inclusive of the paramedic workforce, expanding on the range of out-of-hospital and primary healthcare services already being provided by community paramedics, as well as nurses and other allied health professions.
“Community paramedics are helping to ease the burdens on clinics and hospitals nationwide, demonstrating their effectiveness and utility in existing models of team-based healthcare,” said College CEO John Bruning. “They’re working across both primary and tertiary care, after hours, on weekends and on public holidays, and are the only profession that provides an emergency and community care safety net in cities, regional areas and remote Australia.
“They’re able to provide holistic, integrated care, both independently and as part of multidisciplinary teams, and it’s time they were recognised at the national level - in both Medicare reform and in the introduction of new practice models - for the important contribution they can and do make to our ailing health system.”
Jemma Altmeier, Advocacy and Government Relations Manager, Australasian College of Paramedicine, on 0409 911 681 or email firstname.lastname@example.org