Paramedics will soon be regulated like nurses and doctors, the Government has announced.
Health Minister David Clark has revealed the 1000 paramedics working around the country will from next year get their own professional oversight body and be registered like other health workers.
Australia moved to register its ambulance workers in 2015 and the industry's professional body, Paramedics Australasia, has pushed for New Zealand to follow suit.
Clark said the changes were a long-overdue recognition of key work of paramedics and were necessary to make sure standards were maintained as the workforce increased in size over the next few years to keep up with the introduction of double-crewing.
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The number of paramedics is expected to increase to about 1400 as two-person crews become standard around the country by 2021.
"Like doctors, and nurses, paramedics provide key life preserving services. They act independently in assessing, treating, transporting and referring patients," Clark said.
"Putting a similar level of regulation in place to that for other key health professionals gives assurance that paramedics are appropriately qualified and competent to practise."
St John intensive care paramedic Johnny Mulheron said the changes put New Zealand in line with other countries and the organisation was "delighted".
"It recognises and allows this profession to grow," he said.
The Government will next year set up a Paramedic Council, that will work like current oversight bodies for health practitioners such as doctors, dentists, midwives and physiotherapists.
It'll be the 17th body of its kind in the country.
St John and Wellington Free Ambulance – the two employers of paramedics – will split the costs for setting up and running the registration system and council (about $1.4 million in the first year) with the Ministry of Health and ACC.
Clark said it would be up to the organisation to make decisions about what training would be required for existing paramedics.
"I expect, knowing our paramedics are trained to a high standard, they will not require a significant amount of training."