Paramedics Australasia is actively involved in lobbying for paramedic registration in New Zealand. We believe that registration is both in the public’s best interests and also positions paramedicine as a profession in its own right within the healthcare sector.
On 30th January, Sean Thompson (Chair, PANZ) and Bronwyn Tunnage (Director, PA) met with senior staff from the National Ambulance Sector Office (NASO) and Health Workforce NZ. NASO is a joint office between ACC and the Ministry of Health and its roles are in strategy and operational matters regarding Emergency Ambulance Services, and managing and monitoring funding and contracts. Health Workforce NZ collaborates with educational bodies and employers to ensure that the New Zealand public has a health workforce fit to meet its needs. Our PA representatives stated the case for registration of paramedics and the need for expediency. The extended roles which paramedics are providing in the healthcare system were highlighted, such as appropriate treatment of patients in the community in order to reduce demand at over-subscribed emergency departments. The effects of lack of recognition paramedicine as a healthcare profession were also identified, including a lack of scholarships to fund undergraduate paramedicine education and the need to develop a paramedic workforce representative of the population. The meeting agreed on that the profession of paramedicine must be regulated but of concern, there are still no clear timeframes in which this will be progressed.
On the same day, Bronwyn and Sean met with Barbara Stewart MP. Mrs Stewart is the ‘New Zealand First’ Party spokesperson for Health. Widespread cross-party support is vital to minimise potential hurdles in progressing registration through legislative processes. During this meeting the PA position on registration was clearly stated. The PA team discussed the benefits of integrating paramedicine within the healthcare system to improve patient outcomes and, affordable strategies to introduce regulation. This was a most productive meeting with the New Zealand
First party agreeing to support the inclusion of paramedic regulation under the Health Practitioners Competency Act. Mrs Stewart also offered to release a press release in support of paramedic registration and drawing attention to the delay in achieving this.
Both meetings were an important opportunity to lobby for paramedic registration and to place and maintain this issue on the legislatory agenda.