Paramedics have been formally recognised as members of the Allied Health Professional (AHP) group by the Department of Health (DoH).
The move follows recent discussions with the Department of Health Permanent Secretary Richard Pengelly, DoH officials and the NI Ambulance Service (NIAS).
Richard Pengelly welcomed the change. “Formal recognition of paramedics in Northern Ireland is essential to professionalise the profession so paramedics know just how much they are valued as members of the Health Service.
“This recognition will align paramedics with other AHP colleagues and their peers in the rest of the UK, and recognise the contribution paramedics currently make as inter-professional clinicians working across urgent, emergency, primary and community care provision here.
“This change is also in line with the values within the new DoH Workforce Strategy. It is important that paramedics feel supported in their challenging roles and this move will assist in that.
“Over recent years paramedics have taken responsibility for greater clinical decision making and are providing an increasing range of interventions as part of the wider transformational agenda. This is being underpinned by the move to Higher education for paramedic practice. By including paramedics as AHPs will enable them to expand their networks within the wider group of other AHP professions.”
Michael Bloomfield, Chief Executive of Northern Ireland Ambulance Service, also welcomed the recognition of paramedics as Allied Health Professionals. He said: “Paramedics are, day and daily, the first contact that many patients have with the Health Service and often at times when they are most anxious and vulnerable, including requiring the highest levels of clinical intervention due to trauma or medical emergencies. Paramedics are increasingly bringing the initial treatment to the patient at the scene of the emergency.
“This recognition is testament to the increasing role of paramedicine in the provision of health and social care within Northern Ireland. Paramedic Education has been evolving, and will continue to evolve, as part of the transformation agenda ensuring that those who have need of our service can be confident that their clinical care is delivered by individuals and teams operating to the highest professional standards.
“I congratulate all paramedics on having attained this recognition, which brings them into line with colleagues across the UK, and would like to thank everyone involved in bringing about this AHP recognition.”
The Allied Health Professions (AHP) currently consists of 12 distinct and unique disciplines. These professionals provide key services and add critical value across primary and secondary prevention, diagnostics, treatment and care.
Hazel Winning, the AHP lead in DoH who has worked with NIAS to deliver this recognition, said: “The professional recognition decision would bring opportunities across the health service and has the potential to influence patient pathways and make huge differences to patients’ lives. It can help make use of skills to develop a more flexible workforce and provide more responsive services to service users.”