Quarter of all registered paramedics now members of the College of Paramedics

The College of Paramedics has confirmed it now represents 25% of all Health and Care Professions Council registered paramedics.

Speaking of reaching this important milestone, chief executive Gerry Egan said:

‘I am delighted we have reached the 25% figure. This is an important milestone in the College’s strategic direction, it reflects the growth of the College and the growth in interest from paramedics in how we influence and guide the direction of our profession. Many thanks are due to everybody involved in getting the College to where it is today, including the administrative team at our headquarters, our executive officers, our Council members and, of course, the continued support of our members. We are halfway to achieving one of the requirements to become a Royal College and I am sure it will not be that long before we are knocking on the door of 50%. Everyone can help us on this incredible journey by promoting the College and spreading the good news.’

Taken from Journal of Paramedic Practice, published 28 July 2015.

myHCPC app delivers standards and guidance to registrants on the go

A new app developed by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) delivers standards and guidance to registrants at the touch of a button.

Created specifically with health and care professionals in mind, key features include mobile-friendly access to HCPC standards; guidance on HCPC registration; resources for registrants; plus the latest social media content via YouTube, Twitter and Facebook.

The application is free to download and available for both Apple and Android smartphones and tablets.

The launch of myHCPC follows the HCPC’s first mobile app introduced in 2011. Aimed at the general public and enabling service users to learn more about how to raise a concern, this app allows instant access to the HCPC Register on the go.

Tony Glazier, web and digital manager of the HCPC, said:

‘The myHCPC app has been created especially with registrants in mind. It delivers our standards in a mobile format, as well as guidance relating to CPD and registration at the touch of a button. We want to encourage professionals to download the app to make it your HCPC.’

Taken from Journal of Paramedic Practice, published 17 February 2015.

Exercising the right to be heard

Throughout history whistleblowers have been viewed in one of two ways: as honest and brave individuals carrying out their moral responsibility, or as traitors to the organisation and people they work for. However, for health professionals, including paramedics, the act of whistleblowing should be seen as an obligation rather than a choice.

Standard 1 of the Health and Care Professions Council’s (HCPC) Standards of Conduct, Performance and Ethics states that registrants should act in the best interest of service users (HCPC, 2012). It goes on to say it is the duty of registrants to act immediately if they become aware of a situation where a service user may be put in danger, and to take appropriate action to protect the rights of children and vulnerable adults who are at risk (HCPC, 2012). In short, registrants are required to place the safety of service users before any personal or professional loyalties at all times (HCPC, 2012).

But while it may be the duty of staff to raise concerns where necessary, this will not be done if they feel whistleblowing policies are not implemented properly.

The Francis Inquiry into the scandal at Stafford Hospital illustrated what can happen when staff fail to speak out against inappropriate care. As a result, one of the key recommendations that emerged from the Inquiry was the promotion of whistleblowing. However, what the Inquiry also revealed was the ‘culture of fear’ that exists around the act. Although theoretical protection is provided to NHS staff by the Public Information Disclosure Act 1998 (c.23), this is unlikely to be of much reassurance to potential whistleblowers who know they will have to face the wrath of their colleagues (The Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust Public Inquiry, 2013). Ken Lownds of CURE made the point that regardless of protective legislation and policies, it was the culture that mattered. Without a positive culture, it will never be easy to raise concerns (The Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust Public Inquiry, 2013).

Only last month a paramedic was banned from two hospitals after he spoke out about overcrowding in A&E (BBC, 2015). Luckily the individual involved was later issued an apology and had the restrictions lifted, but this did not stop union bosses claiming the case was a clear example of victimisation.

The raising of complaints and concerns is essential in ensuring the highest quality of care is upheld in the NHS. Employees who raise concerns should be valued, respected and protected, not victimised and bullied. A recent report from the Health Committee admitted that the treatment of whistleblowers remains a ‘stain’ on the reputation of the NHS (Health Committee, 2015). It is therefore imperative that this stain is eradicated so that staff are emboldened to carry out their duty without fearing the consequences.

References

BBC (2015) Worcestershire hospitals ban paramedic Stuart Gardner. BBC. http://tinyurl.com/p6de2zo (accessed 2 February 2015)

Health and Care Professions Council (2012) Standards of Conduct, Performance and Ethics. HCPC, London

Health Committee (2015) Fourth Report of Session 2014–15, Complaints and Raising Concerns. HC 350. The Stationery Office, London

The Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust Public Inquiry (2013) Report of the of the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust Public Inquiry. Chaired by Robert Francis QC. Volume 1: Analysis of evidence and lessons learned (part 1). The Stationery Office, London

Public Information Disclosure Act 1998 (c.23) The Stationery Office, London

Taken from Journal of Paramedic Practice, published 6 February 2015.

HCPC publishes new standards of proficiency for paramedics

The Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) has published revised standards of proficiency for paramedics.

The standards of proficiency are the professional standards that every registrant must meet in order to become registered, and must continue to meet in order to remain on the HCPC Register. The standards set out what professionals should know, understand and be able to do to practise safely and effectively.

The standards of proficiency are divided into generic standards (which apply to all HCPC-regulated professions) and standards specific to each profession.

The HCPC Council approved revised generic standards in March 2011 and the HCPC is now working to update the standards that apply to each individual profession. The revised profession-specific standards for paramedics have been published as part of this process.

Michael Guthrie, Director of Policy and Standards, said:

‘We have worked with the College of Paramedics to review the standards and asked them to make recommendations. We have also considered the feedback we received from our public consultation and are grateful to all those who participated in the process.

‘The changes we have made to the profession-specific standards for paramedics ensure that they reflect current practice and include language that is appropriate to the profession.’

The HCPC will now work with education providers to implement the new standards.

Taken from Journal of Paramedic Practice, published 10 September 2014.

Paramedics and professionalisation

Since the birth of organised pre-hospital emergency care the question of its professionalisation has been met with ambiguity. From its origins in military history as a transport service to its development into the current practitioner role that has become an integral part of the health care sector, the need for its recognition as a profession has become increasingly important.

One of the main concerns regarding professionalisation is that it has no clear definition. Sociologists of professions will dispute the requirements necessary for an occupation to be seen as a profession and so it remains questionable as to how much it relies simply on perception. According to Evetts (2012), professionalisation involves the protection of practitioners of an occupation by only making it possible to practice that occupation if you are trained in that particular category of knowledge. However, surely professionalisation extends beyond mere training?

Within the UK, the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) was formed as a statutory regulator of health and care professionals, standardising the education and training received by members of the National Health Service (NHS) workforce and moving that training into the university sector (HCPC, 2013). The HCPC liaises with professional bodies for all the professions that the registrar is responsible for. These organisations do work which may include promoting the profession, representing members, curriculum frameworks, post-registration education and training and continuing professional development (HCPC, 2013). The College of Paramedics (then the British Paramedic Association) was set up as the professional body for the ambulance profession. According to the College of Paramedics, having a professional body has given them the opportunity to change the way that education, training and associated awards are established (College of Paramedics, 2013).

In this issue of International Paramedic Practice, Pip Lyndon James looks at the issue of professionalisation for Australian paramedics. She comments on how at present the Australian paramedic discipline is not considered a full profession by the national or state governments. Despite frequent public misassumption that paramedicine is a registered, highly-regulated industry credited with professional status, this is currently not the case.

It is clear that steps are gradually being taken to reach this ultimate aim. Moving in the direction of other health disciplines, such as medicine and nursing, the advent of paramedic degrees worldwide that are replacing the traditional older in-house training conducted by ambulance services is surely a move in the right direction. While paramedicine has not yet received the professional status it deserves, it is important to bear in mind the distinction between professionalism and professionalisation. Until paramedicine receives professionalisation, it is integral that paramedics continue to act in a professional manner, adhering to codes of conduct and striving towards ongoing professional development.

References:

College of Paramedics (2013) About us. http://www.collegeofparamedics.co.uk/about_us/ (accessed 21 August 2013)

Evetts J (2012) Similarities in Contexts and Theorizing: Professionalism and Inequality. Professions and Professionalism 2(2)

Health and Care Professions Council (2013) Aims and vision. http://www.hcpc-uk.org/aboutus/aimsandvision/ (accessed 21 August 2013)

Taken from International Paramedic Practice, published 28 August 2013.