The Government has agreed to regulate paramedics under the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act 2003, Health Minister David Clark says.
He says regulation will come into effect on 1 January 2020, but it will take some time to establish a new Paramedic Council and start registration, which is expected to be in place later in 2020.
Nominations for members of the new Paramedic Council will be sought early in the new year. Once the new Council is established, it will spend some time setting up the new standards and processes required before all paramedics have to be registered.
Costs for regulating paramedics are expected to be shared between the Ministry of Health, ACC, St John and Wellington Free Ambulance.
Mr Clark says the purpose of the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act is to protect the public by providing mechanisms to regulate health professions that pose a risk of harm to the public.
"The Act enables independent authorities to regulate health practitioners. There are over 20 regulated professions including, for example, medical practitioners, nurses, dentists, midwives, occupational therapists and physiotherapists."
The new Paramedic Council will bring the total number of responsible authorities (regulatory bodies) under the Act to 17.
Paramedics provide acute emergency care to patients in life-threatening situations and practise high-risk interventions under challenging environments. For example, paramedics may need to place a cannula into a patient’s vein to administer restricted and/or prescription medicines and fluids. They may need to perform surgical procedures on a patient’s airway or chest to assist breathing.
Just over 1,000 paramedics currently work for the two emergency ambulance providers St John and Wellington Free Ambulance. This workforce is expected to grow to 1,400 by 2021 as double crewing is standardised around the country.