Why do paramedics have a high rate of self-referral?

Paramedics have been regulated in the UK since 2003. Analysis shows that the profession has had consistently higher rates of self-referral to its regulator compared with other health and care professions. Between 2013 and 2016, the percentage of paramedics who self-referred averaged 50% of all cases, compared with 6% across all other health professions regulated by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) and 10% across social workers in England. This article reports on possible reasons underlying this trend. Using a mixed-methods approach including a literature review, interviews, focus groups and case analysis, the study identified a number of possible contributory factors. These included pressurised work environments, variable guidance and support from employers, and work cultures of fear and conflict. The evolving nature of the profession was also cited. The research found that there was a cohort of cases that appeared inappropriate—where the referral was for a matter that did not require reporting. Actions are being taken to reduce such self-referrals to avoid the emotional distress and resource implications for those involved.

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