Paramedics to be a regulated profession to 'protect the public' - Health Minister David Clark

Paramedics will soon have the same recognition as nurses and doctors thanks to new regulations brought in by the Government.

Health Minister David Clark announced on Tuesday paramedics will be recognised under the same regulations as other health professionals.

"The purpose of [regulation] is to protect the public by providing mechanisms for ensuring we have high quality regulations, and that we have standards in place that ensure paramedics are appropriately qualified," Clark said on Tuesday morning. 

The regulations will come into effect on 1 January 2020 and a new Council will be created to establish new standards for frontline health professionals. 

Once the Council is established, all paramedics will be registered through it. 

"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 practice," said Clark in a statement.

Clark says the changes will ensure the standards to which paramedics work are maintained.

"These long overdue changes will ensure the high professional standard to which they currently work will be maintained and enhanced into the future."

New Zealand First backs the new regulations, saying the move will "uphold the integrity of the profession".

"Our paramedics provide lifesaving services to hundreds of thousands of medical and trauma patients each year. However, unlike doctors and nurses, they are not regulated as such and do not enjoy protection of their professional titles," said NZ First Health spokesperson Jenny Marcroft.

"Recognition of the status of our paramedics will provide comfort to all of those who are in need of their services."

Just over 1000 paramedics are currently employed for New Zealand's two ambulance providers St John and Wellington Free Ambulance.

These numbers are expected to grow to 1400 by 2021.

The cost of regulating paramedics will be shared between Ministry of Health, ACC, St John and Wellington Free Ambulance.