Life Connections 2012

Paramedic prescribingAndy Collen, Paramedic Prescribing Lead of the College of Paramedics, spoke with general optimism about the attainment of future powers for paramedics to prescribe drugs to patients in the pre-hospital setting, though he advocated the employment of a more honed and specific strategy in order to attain it in practical terms.‘We must have a voice,’ he said, calling on the paramedic profession to ‘generate the clarity’ of their message when lobbying for powers to prescribe.Collen indicated that the transition to prescribing powers would be far more attainable and immediate if paramedics could set out a clear proposal in which the specifics of paramedic prescribing could be seen, such as the list of drugs to be included in paramedic prescribing, proposed qualification process to be enforced, and a time frame in which the proposals could be introduced into normative practice.Advocating a grass-roots approach on the matter, Collen stated that paramedics needed to ‘create a case for ourselves locally’ if paramedic prescribing was to become a reality in the near future.He urged paramedics to take a local approach to lobbying for prescribing powers, as well as targeting central government and the Department of Health to instigate the change.‘It's something that we have been fighting for some time’ he said, adding: ‘we are confident that we are moving to the next level’ namely, public consultation.Indeed, the profession will require the support of the general public as well as strong allies in the DH, parliament and Whitehall if any changes are to be made. Andy Newton, chair of the College of Paramedics, referenced the difficulties that paramedics could have in getting their message heard by politicians and voters, as well as the bureaucracy and political agenda to negotiate within what he referred to as the ‘many headed hydra called the Department of Health’.However, the College remained confident in the support from the general public, signifying that, although the paramedic profession can often be under-appreciated and misrepresented to them (in no small part because of a somewhat sensationalist media agenda on the subject), that, despite such hindrances, the profession has a prominent and immovable public respect that paramedics should not ignore when trying to influence change, ‘We already have such good public confidence,’ joked Collen ‘they call us all the time.’Sir Keith Porter, honorary professor of clinical traumatology at the University of Birmingham.Picture: Arun MarshParamedic leaders should bear in mind when finding their voice flexing their political muscles.

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