Federation of Ambulance Unions (FAOUNZ) and National Distribution Union Joint Media Statement
Thursday, 21 February 2008, 2.00pm
Ambulance unions support Coroner, but more needs to be done
The National Distribution Union (NDU) through its membership of the Federation of Ambulance Unions (FAOUNZ) supports the Wellington Coroner’s recommendation that a body be established to develop nationally consistent clinical standards for Paramedics, but believes more is required to achieve meaningful change in the sector.
The recommendations presented to the Health Committee late last year identified significant concerns with the education systems, clinical regulation and continuing competency assurance of professional Paramedics and volunteers. Contracted ambulance service providers now develop their own education, clinical guidelines and performance management systems, creating regional variance and inconsistent service delivery. There are inadequate financial resources allocated to these areas with too much left up to the individual Paramedic to maintain competency.
The NDU believes that government leaders need to resource a prehospital professional council that would regulate not only Paramedics but all first responders who provide emergency medical care to the public. This body would provide ongoing education, assess competence, adjudicate on complaints of a clinical nature and steer professional development. The NDU does not believe the current dominance of ambulance service providers in ambulance education is healthy, and the continued fusion of volunteer and professional training systems holds both systems back.
The NDU is confident that the inquiry into the provision of Ambulance Services by the Health Committee will recommend substantive change in the sector for the benefit of all New Zealanders. The pending elections represent a chance for politicians to drive change towards the provision of better ambulance services. Adequate funding is needed to improve coverage and stop the dangerous practice of single crewing of emergency ambulances, as well as better sector leadership and improvements in clinical performance.