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Protecting the title of paramedic

Paramedics are health professionals who provide emergency medical assessment, treatment and care in the pre-hospital, or out-of-hospital, environment.

Paramedics may be required to provide care that can include:

  • complex and highly invasive treatment, such as the administration of intravenous fluids and drugs
  • management of severe trauma, such as burns and spinal injuries, and
  • working in challenging or uncontrolled settings, such as accident scenes or rescue operations.

It is important that a person practising as a paramedic has the necessary qualifications and training to provide the specific clinical interventions that may be required to provide emergency medical treatment and care.

From 1 September, 2014 the title of paramedic will be protected in South Australia.This will mean that only those persons who hold a prescribed qualification, or are exempted from this requirement by the Minister for Health, may use the title of paramedic or describe themselves in a manner that would imply that they are a paramedic.

In protecting the use of the title of paramedic the public can be assured that a paramedic practising in South Australia has the necessary education and training to make complex and critical clinical judgements in relation to their care.

How is the title of paramedic protected?

The Health Practitioner Regulation National Law (South Australia) Act 2010 will be amended to protect the title of paramedic.

Under the Act it will be an offence for any person to knowingly or recklessly

  1. take or use the title of paramedic, or
  2. take or use a title, name, word or description that indicates, or could be reasonably understood, to indicate that the person is a paramedic

unless the person holds a prescribed qualification, or is exempted from this requirement by the Minister for Health.

A person who uses the title of paramedic without holding a prescribed qualification or exemption may be liable to a fine of up to $30,000.

The Act will only apply to those persons practising as paramedics in South Australia.

It will not apply to persons employed as first aid officers, ambulance officers or St John Volunteers.

What are the prescribed qualifications?

The qualifications that a person must hold to practise as a paramedic will be set out in the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law (South Australia) Variation Regulations 2014.The regulation listing the qualifications was published on pages 4042-4044 in the Government Gazette dated 14 August, 2014.A copy of the Government Gazette may be accessed here.

Under the regulation the minimum qualifications that a person must hold to practise under the title of paramedic in South Australia will be as follows:

  • a degree in paramedicine from a university in Australia or New Zealand with successful completion of an internship with a prescribed paramedic service, or
  • a diploma or advanced diploma in paramedical science obtained prior to 1 February, 2017 from a registered training organisation in Australia, or recognised industry training organisation in New Zealand, or
  • qualifications leading to registration as a paramedic with the:
  • Health and Care Professions Council (UK)
  • Health Professions Council of South Africa
  • Pre-Hospital Emergency Care Council (Ireland).

The Minister for Health may also approve other qualifications that will entitle a person to practise as a paramedic in South Australia.Details on how to apply for additional qualifications to be recognised are provided below.

Completion of an internship

The completion of an internship will initially be limited to a prescribed paramedic service defined under the regulation as:

  • SA Ambulance Service, or
  • an emergency ambulance service prescribed under section 57(1)(b) of the Health Care Act 2008 i.e. Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia (Central Operations), Australian Helicopters, and the Department of Defence, or
  • an emergency service provider authorised under a law of another Australian State or Territory or New Zealand.

The Minister for Health may approve other organisations to be included under the definition of a prescribed paramedic service.Details on how to apply for the inclusion of a paramedic employer as a prescribed paramedic service for the purpose of providing paramedic internships are provided below.

Applying for the inclusion of additional qualifications to entitle a person to practise as a paramedic in South Australia

Applying for the inclusion of a paramedic employer as a prescribed paramedic service for the purpose of providing paramedic internships

Applications seeking approval of the Minister for Health to:

  1. include a qualification in addition to those included in the regulation to allow a person to practise as a paramedic in South Australia, or
  2. include a paramedic employer under the definition of a prescribed paramedic service for the purpose of providing paramedic internships

should be made in writing to:

Paramedic Regulation
c/- Policy and Legislation Unit
SA Health
Level 10, 11 Hindmarsh Square ADELAIDE SA 5000.

or via email to policy&legislation@health.sa.gov.au with 'Paramedic Regulation' entered in the subject line.

Applications should include relevant supporting documentation to enable an assessment of the qualification or internship program.

Exemptions in place from 1 September, 2014

The Minister for Health has made a series of exemptions for persons that do not hold a prescribed qualification which will enable them to practise as a paramedic in South Australia.

These exemptions were published on pages 3957-3958 in the Government Gazette dated 7 August, 2014.A copy of the Government Gazette may be accessed here.

The exemptions will allow the following persons to practise as a paramedic in South Australia without holding a prescribed qualification:

  • a person identified as a paramedic intern who has completed a degree in paramedicine and who holds an internship with a prescribed paramedic provider
  • a person identified as a student paramedic who is enrolled in a degree in paramedicine or a diploma or advanced diploma in paramedical science who is assisting with the provision of emergency medical assessment, treatment and care in accordance with the instruction of a paramedic
  • a person who does not hold a prescribed qualification but who is engaged as a paramedic with SA Ambulance Service and who demonstrates:
  • recency of practice as a paramedic for a period equivalent to a minimum of 640 hours within a five year period, and
  • satisfactory completion of all in-service training and re-accreditation requirements

This exemption only applies to a person engaged as a paramedic with SA Ambulance Service prior to 27 February, 2009

  • a person who does not hold a prescribed qualification but who is engaged as a paramedic with an emergency ambulance service which has entered a Memorandum of Understanding with, or is otherwise authorised by, SA Health or SA Ambulance Service in relation to the provision of emergency medical assessment, treatment and care in South Australia
  • a person who does not hold a prescribed qualification but who is requested by the Chief Executive Officer of SA Ambulance Service to provide emergency medical assessment, treatment and care in relation to:
  • a public health incident or public health emergency declared under the South Australian Public Health Act 2011, or
  • an identified major incident, a major emergency or a disaster declared under the Emergency Management Act 2004

In addition, the Minister for Health has issued an exemption that will allow persons employed by a domiciliary care service provided by Country Health SA Local Health Network or the Department for Communities and Social Inclusion to continue to use the title of paramedical aide.

Applying for an exemption for a person to practise as a paramedic in South Australia

The Minister for Health may grant an exemption to a person or class of persons to practise as a paramedic in South Australia even though they do not hold a prescribed qualification and are not covered by one of the existing exemptions.

Applications should be made in writing to:

Paramedic Regulation            
c/- Policy and Legislation Unit            
SA Health
Level 10, 11 Hindmarsh Square ADELAIDE SA 5000.

or via email to policy&legislation@health.sa.gov.au with 'Paramedic Regulation' entered in the subject line.

Applications should include relevant supporting documentation in support of the request for an exemption e.g. qualification details, employment history, work experience, scope of practice.

Further information

For more information about the protection of the title of paramedic:

Email: policy&legislation@health.sa.gov.au 

Telephone: (08) 8226 0715.

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