Surge in overseas recruitment

Ambulance services within the UK are increasingly looking overseas to recruit staff as a result of a nationwide shortage of paramedics. The need for the drive has been brought on, in part, following the recommendation for paramedics to be added to the shortage occupation list for the first time (Migratory Advisory Committee, 2015). Significant increases in demand for ambulances in the UK following the shift in focus to treat people at home rather than in A&E; high staff attrition due to work pressures and stress brought on by longer working hours; and growing opportunities for paramedics to take on roles in alternative areas, have all contributed to the shortage.

While only one paramedic was recruited from overseas from 2013–2014, 183 have already been recruited from 2014–2015, with additional recruitment planned for the rest of the year (Renaud-Komiya and Calkin, 2015). Many of the staff now employed by the London Ambulance Service NHS Trust (LAS) have come over from Australia and New Zealand, where paramedics share a similar skillset with the UK. There is also the added benefit of a mutual language. Conversely, South Central Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust has turned to Poland to help combat their shortage of paramedics. The assessment process within the LAS involves completing a clinical paper, a lifting assessment, and a practical assessment on advanced life support, as well as an oral interview.

However, it is worth noting that the migration of healthcare workers brings with it ethical issues, as services abroad may suffer as a result of their own falling numbers (Peate, 2014). An article in the Herald Sun referred to the ‘aggressive’ campaign being undertaken by LAS as an attempt to ‘poach’ Victorian paramedics (Van den Berg, 2014).

The UK is not alone in looking overseas for recruitment. Many paramedics who trained in the UK now work in countries such as Australia or the United Arab Emirates. However, the extent at which paramedics from other countries are being targeted for recruitment is certainly an anomaly within the UK. While it certainly offers a short-term solution for the current shortage ‘crisis’, it is questionable whether it presents a real answer to the problem. It is undoubted that national investment is needed in the paramedic profession.

That being said, the positives of overseas recruitment shouldn’t be overlooked. Working abroad, even if only temporarily, offers opportunities for intercultural awareness and the development of global perspectives of issues, as well as an insight into alternative pathways of care, service provision and paramedic practice to one’s own country.


Migratory Advisory Committee (2015) Partial review of the Shortage Occupation Lists for the UK and Scotland. MAC, London. (accessed 26 March 2015)

Peate I (2014) Ethical recruitment and employment of internationally educated paramedics. Journal of Paramedic Practice 6(10): 500–501. doi: 10.12968/jpar.2014.6.10.500

Renaud-Komiya N, Calkin S (2015) Trusts forced to look overseas to plug paramedic gaps. HSJ. (accessed 27 March 2015)

Van den Berg L (2014) London in bid to lure Victorian paramedics. Herald Sun. http:// bid-to-lure-victorian-paramedics/storyfni0fit3- 1227011369042 (accessed 17 September 2014)

Taken from International Paramedic Practice, published 8 April 2015.

South Central Ambulance Service HART celebrates its 3rd anniversary

The South Central Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SCAS) Hazardous Area Response Team (HART) is celebrating its third year of operation.

The HART has attended over 680 incidents since 1 April 2013, while continuing to train and strengthen its staff.

HARTs are groups of paramedics and technicians who have been trained to deal with a wider range of possible scenarios than normal. The programme was started to allow ambulance workers to perform their duties in ‘hot zones’ (areas where danger is still present, e.g. a building collapse or a natural disaster) and bring patients into safe areas where they can be more effectively treated.

John Dyer, head of resilience and specialist operations at the SCAS HART, said:

‘Taking care to patients, wherever they might be is very important. SCAS HART have proved that a close knit team working in partnership with other emergency services can ensure high quality care is given to patients as soon as possible.’

Taken from Journal of Paramedic Practice, published 17 February 2014.

Solar panels introduced to ambulance vehicles

South Central Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SCAS) has become the first ambulance service in the UK to fit solar panels to its rapid response vehicles (RRVs).

Following a nine-month trial that began in January 2012, 36 of the Trust’s RRVs have been installed with solar panels so far.

The panels are being used to charge the emergency vehicle’s secondary battery, which powers on-board equipment such as defibrillators, satellite navigation systems and communication devices.

The vehicles will no longer need to stand by with their engines running to recharge essential battery systems, which means the Trust can be fully mobile at all times.

The move will help reduce fuel consumption, fuel and battery costs, as well as significantly reduce the Trust’s carbon footprint.

Although it cost £34,560 to fit the vehicles with the panels, the service anticipates reducing its carbon dioxide emissions by 30.28 tonnes and its fuel costs by more than £50,000 over the next five years.

SCAS green team co-ordinator, Brian Miller, said: ‘To put it in perspective, one tonne of carbon dioxide can fuel six double-decker buses.

‘Reducing the carbon footprint is a national NHS objective and we identified at an early stage the potential of solar power.’

Taken from Journal of Paramedic Practice, published 20 May 2013.