The changing Australian healthcare landscape: implications for paramedics

This article argues that the Australian paramedic sector has reached a critical point in its development as a recognized profession. It identifies and describes a number of the most influential factors that are currently driving change throughout the Australian health care system and that can be demonstrated to have significant impact upon the emergency health care sector. In order to remain and grow as an autonomous and respected part of being part of contemporary service delivery, and consequently becoming recognized as a profession, a number of key questions demand answers: does the sector have the capacity to help with burgeoning health care workforce shortages or offer alternatives in service delivery? If it does, does the role equate to some form of extended practitioner or shared care roles such as physician assistant or paramedic practitioner? Either way, it appears reasonable that the role, responsibilities and function of a paramedic both in urban and rural locales in the near future will undergo some form of change: the question is whether any such change will be professionally developmental or detrimental? While this article focuses on the issues in Australia, many of these issues are also faced by the paramedic profession and health care sector in the UK. Therefore, it should provide the JPP readership with useful material in their ongoing development of alternative service delivery models and quest to improve workforce productivity.

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