Student paramedic recruitment drives

Last month it was announced that the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust (EEAST) was aiming to recruit 400 student paramedics as part of the service’s turnaround plan which was issued in April last year (EEAST, 2013). The plan was brought about following criticism directed at the service as a result of poor response times, where it was felt that people could not be assured they would receive care in a timely and effective manner (Care Quality Commission, 2013).

Within the plan, the Trust acknowledges: ‘We are not delivering our 999 service, which is our core business well enough’ (EEAST, 2013). It outlines some of the challenges faced by the Trust, which it groups into the headings: leadership, our people, clinical operational delivery, and systems and processes.

The recruitment drive comes as a result of the realisation that there are not enough front-line resources available to deliver the required levels of service in both urban and rural areas. This includes not enough staff or double staffed ambulances.

Response to the new student paramedic programme has been overwhelming, with the number of applications exceeding 1200 in the week it was launched (EEAST, 2014). It is undoubted that this is largely due to the ability for students to learn while on the job. The increasing prevalence of higher education institution qualifications in paramedic science as a means to achieve HCPC registration, and corresponding reduction in student paramedic positions with ambulance service Trusts, has meant that many people wishing to pursue a career as a paramedic have been unable to do so due to factors such as cost.

Currently, paramedic education favours those who are able to financially support themselves, yet this does not promote fair or widened access to the profession (Allied Health Solutions, 2013).

The student training programme offered by EEAST will include a recognised qualification via a partner higher education institution that leads to eligibility to apply for registration with the HCPC, yet it is unclear how this will be delivered. Qualification from the programme takes two and a half years.

The initiative from EEAST is just one of a number that combine an apprenticeship model with learning from higher education institutions. Another notable example would be the Scottish model of the Ambulance Service sponsoring an Academy linked to Glasgow Caledonian University (Allied Health Solutions, 2013).

It is hoped that the EEAST recruitment drive will help with the recovery of the organisation, and so allow for the delivery of high-quality services for patients, not to mention it will also offer a considerable number of career opportunities for people in the east of England.

References:

Allied Health Solutions (2013) Paramedics Evidence Based Education Project (PEEP). End of Study Report. Buckinghamshire New University, High Wycombe

Care Quality Commission (2013) East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust HQ. Inspection Report, March 2013. http://tinyurl.com/omftynq (accessed 31 January 2014)

East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust (2013) Delivering better services for our patients: The turnaround plan for the East of England NHS Trust.

East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust (2014) More than a thousand application—and rising! http://tinyurl.com/og9mnmo (accessed 31 January 2014)

Taken from Journal of Paramedic Practice, published 7 February 2014.

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