Career Pathways in the Ambulance Service

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2014 Health Care Service Group Conference
7 December 2013

Conference notes with concern the negative impact job re-design and privatisation is having on career pathways in the ambulance service. The increased use of private ambulance companies in the provision of patient transport services (PTS) has seen significant numbers of UNISON members being transferred outside of the NHS. Not only does this represent a threat to terms and conditions and quality service provision it also removes the opportunity for many members to progress through the ambulance career pathway. This in turn deprives the ambulance service of the patient caring skills that members develop when working in PTS.

Conference recognises the implications of workforce re-design on career pathways in the ambulance service. In many ambulance trusts, the introduction of emergency care assistants (ECAs) and the discontinuation of the ambulance technician role have resulted in a career cul-de-sac for members. Options for ECAs to progress through the career pathway remain extremely limited, with ECAs being forced to leave their current job to enter full-time education if they wish to progress. The discontinuation of the ambulance technician role has also meant that vocational based training and subsequent career progression is no longer an option for many members.

Conference notes the paramedic evidence based education project (PEEP) that was commissioned for the College of Paramedics, to progress the strategic direction of standardised education for paramedics. Conference welcomes the report’s finding that the most appropriate funding model for paramedic education in England is the Higher Education England (HEE)/Local Education and Training Board (LETB) commissioned model with access to bursary support in line with other NHS non-medical trainees. Conference approves the consistency this would bring to paramedic education and the prospect of enabling students from diverse backgrounds to apply to train as paramedics.

Conference calls upon the Health Service Group Executive to:

1)continue to campaign against the outsourcing of PTS contracts to the private sector and highlight the impact this will have on members’ career progression;

2)campaign for a national minimum staffing level for operating an accident and emergency ambulance, which allows both crew members to make autonomous clinical decisions;

3)work with the National Ambulance Strategic Partnership Forum (NASPF) to encourage a nationally consistent approach to accredited training for support staff that allows for career progression in the ambulance service;

4)engage the College of Paramedics and ambulance employers to campaign for a consistent funding model for ambulance education;

5)work through the NASPF to promote job design where all staff have access to clear career pathways in the ambulance service;

6)work through the NASPF to encourage and promote vocational training routes and apprenticeship schemes in the ambulance service.