Paramedic shortage

Paramedics have officially been recognised as a shortage occupation in the UK for the first time.

The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) added the profession to the list having been asked by the Government to carry out a review.

The group heard the national level shortage of paramedics was due to a number of factors, including increase in demand, high staff attrition due to work pressures and stress, attractiveness of the role within trusts, and paramedics being lost to other areas, such as the 111 service, GP practices, walk-in centres and the Department of Work and Pension assessment work.

The North East was found to have significant vacancy levels (131), along with Yorkshire (30), South East Coast (205), West Midlands (100), North West (45), South Central (250), South Western (60) and London (430).

The group recognised national efforts to increase the supply of paramedics, including an increase in training placements, but accepted that the effect of this will not be seen until 2017.

Being on the occupation shortage list will make it easier for NEAS to recruit from abroad, which is a route the trust is researching.

NEAS has successfully recruited 23 qualified paramedics since July 2013 and has almost 120 student paramedics going through various stages of training, of which around 75% were internal staff.

The trust expects national changes to paramedic education will make it even harder for NEAS to recruit but the Recruitment Team is working on a number of initiatives to counteract this.

Since July 2014, the trust has also recruited over 60 Emergency Care Assistants and 131 call operators; 59 people have also joined the Patient Transport Service (PTS) Bank and six new PTS apprentices started in April. The trust has also introduced an Emergency Care Bank.

Yvonne Ormston, Chief Executive, said: “Recruitment has been top of my list since I started in October last year.

“This is a national problem, not one NEAS faces alone, but we are doing all we can to recruit more paramedics.

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank all our staff, both front line and support, for their hard work in what can be incredibly difficult and challenging circumstances.”

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