2019/20 annual summary

Snapshot of the profession

  • 19,838 paramedics
    • Up 14.5% from 2018/19
    • 2.5% of all registered health practitioners
  • 1.6% identified as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander
  • 44.4% female; 55.6% male

Age

Age: 9.3% < 25, 36.3% 25-34, 21.9% 35-44, 20.4% 45-54, 10.9% 55-64, 1.2% 65-74

Regulating the profession

Notifications

  • 112 notifications lodged with Ahpra
    • 152 registered paramedics Australia-wide, including HPCA and OHO data, had notifications made about them 
    • 0.8% of the profession 

Sources of notifications

Sources of notifications: 45.5% employer, 17.0% patient, relative or member of the public, 14.3% other practitioner, 1.8% HCE, 1.8% Board’s own motion, 19.6% other

  • 17 immediate actions taken
  • 41 mandatory notifications received 
    • 21 about professional standards

Most common types of complaint

Most common types of complaint: 27.7% clinical care, 14.3% health impairment, 12.5% offence against other law, 8.0% boundary violation, 8.0% behaviour, 29.5% other

Notifications closed

Notifications closed: 65 notifications closed (4.6% conditions imposed on registration or an undertaking accepted, 1.5% received a caution or reprimand, 7.7% referred to another body or retained by a health complaints entity, 86.2% no further action)

Monitoring

  • 36 practitioners monitored for health, performance and/or conduct during the year 
  • 168 cases being monitored at 30 June: 
    • 5 for conduct
    • 12 for health reasons
    • 1 for performance
    • 11 for prohibited practitioner/student
    • 139 for suitability/eligibility for registration

Criminal offence complaints

  • 26 criminal offence complaints made 
    • 24 about title protection 
    • 1 about advertising breaches
    • 1 directing or inciting unprofessional conduct/ professional misconduct

Referrals to an adjudication body

  • No matters decided by a tribunal
  • No matters decided by a panel
  • 4 appeals

A report from the Chair

Issues this year

The regulation of paramedicine started on 1 December 2018 and the Paramedicine Board of Australia’s work to further implement the regulation of the profession continued into the 2019/20 year. Overall, the transition of the profession to regulation has continued to be a relatively smooth process despite the large numbers of applications received. There are now almost 20,000 registered paramedics in the National Scheme and by 30 November 2019 over 17,000 had renewed their registration for the first time. 

Regulatory response to COVID-19

To meet the challenges faced due to this national health emergency, the Board agreed that its regulatory approaches could be modified to accommodate these exceptional circumstances, provided public safety was not compromised. We provided streamlined and pragmatic approaches on CPD, recency of practice and English language proficiency to support the workforce challenge. The Board also worked to streamline the conditions and reporting obligations on some practitioners to better enable them and their employers to meet the workforce demands within the pandemic environment.

The support of Ahpra staff to expedite applications where possible was important in responding to the pandemic and was much appreciated by the Board.

Policy updates

As provided for in the English language skills registration standard, we approved additional tests that met the requirements of the Board for the demonstration of English language skills. Currently, there is no paramedicine-specific occupational English test (OET), and therefore the Board agreed that an equivalent pass of the OET for any other registered health profession will meet the Board’s requirements.

The Board continued to work closely with the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia on matters relating to dual qualified nurse-paramedics and together we released an updated fact sheet for dual registered practitioners. This provides extra clarity about staying connected with the professions when maintaining recency of practice.

Guidelines

To support the implementation of the Communicable Diseases Network Australia guidelines that were approved by the Australian Health Ministers’ Advisory Council, the Board, together with the Dental, Medical, Nursing and Midwifery and Podiatry Boards, approved Guidelines for registered health practitioners and students in relation to blood-borne viruses. These support safe practice for paramedics, who may have to perform exposure-prone procedures on patients in an emergency setting.

We also joined in with other Boards in approving common guidelines for mandatory reporting that took into account the changes in legislation that took effect on 1 March 2020.

Stakeholder engagement

The Board continued its approach of engaging with and supporting the profession in joining the National Scheme. We produced a range of supportive material about some of our registration standards and met routinely with key stakeholders. The COVID-19 pandemic affected the Board’s program of engagement activities, but we hope to reinvigorate this program later in 2020.

National entry-level competency assessment

Subsequent to some substantial work, an agreement was reached on a national entry-level competence assessment for paramedics to be conducted by a consortium of universities across Australia. The assessment was developed to give applicants for registration or renewal of registration an opportunity to support their application, when required, with a demonstration of their competence as a paramedic.

The foundation work done by Edith Cowan University, Flinders University, La Trobe University, University of the Sunshine Coast and Western Sydney University, which formed the consortium to develop and provide the competence assessment, was greatly appreciated by the Board. All consortium members provide entry-to-practice paramedicine programs at their respective university, are registered by the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency and have extensive experience in assessing an individual’s capability to practise paramedicine safely and competently.

On behalf of the Board, I thank everyone who has contributed to the regulation of paramedics during 2019/20. Board members, Ahpra, the profession, employers and government have all played a critical role in embedding the regulation of paramedicine as a health profession under the National Law.

Professor Stephen Gough ASM, Chair

 
 
Page reviewed 12/11/2020