Why I’ve Left the College of Paramedics

For a long time, as a Registered Paramedic, I have had a great deal of respect for the College of Paramedics, who are in place with a view to being the ‘voice of Paramedics and ambulance professionals’ across the nation. Since well before qualifying as a Paramedic (and prior to starting Jigsaw Medical), I was an associate, then a full member. However, the time has come to cancel my membership, despite the work that I do genuinely support that the College continue to undertake on topics such as Paramedic prescribing.

To add a bit of background to my decision, and my frustration with the college, I will set the scene by quoting some statements from the College website:

“The College of Paramedics is the recognised professional body for paramedics and the ambulance profession in the UK.”

The College further represents the interests of paramedics and ambulance clinicians by providing a contact point for the media, through membership of appropriate committees and advisory groups…”

To be clear, my interpretation of this ‘mission’ is that they acknowledge that their role is to represent Paramedics. Each and every one. Nowhere in this statement does it make this exclusive to only supporting those Paramedics (and being the voice for the views of these professionals), who are employed by the NHS.

A little while ago, I spoke to the (then) Executive Officer of the College regarding my concerns of a statement given to the media around an article involving the use of independent (“private”) ambulance providers, who are increasingly in place to support the NHS, and our NHS colleagues in responding to those patients who call 999 in an emergency. In essence, the statements related to an apparent view from the College that their view was that Private companies should not be used to support the NHS (for context, a great example of one such quote is here). This is just one example where the College appears to only focus on NHS Paramedics and fails to acknowledge the many areas in which Paramedics now work, both inside and outside of direct NHS employment.

I agree you could argue that their focus on NHS employed Paramedics is as a result of their ratio of NHS to independent Ambulance Professionals – but I can find no example of adequate professional representation for the rest. In any event, a professional body should be neutral and represent the profession, regardless of their employer.

If this is the case, then I can only assume that the College does not support their many thousands of members who work with independent providers – who frankly are being singled out by the very professional body who is supposed to be supporting them, being their voice with the media and representing their interests.

This has continued to be the stance of the College, despite my discussion with them and voicing my disappointment that they are excluding many of their members (who, for the avoidance of doubt, would include people working directly for private companies outside of the NHS entirely – such as in an industrial setting, offshore or even on events). You would certainly not see this from the Royal College of Nursing, or the other similar professional bodies who recognise their position.

My point is this. By its own admission, the College (like all other Colleges who perform similar functions within healthcare) is in place to support ‘The Profession’, by Profession this means ALL Paramedics – not just those employed by the NHS (which is around 60% of the current HCPC registrants as I understand it). Indeed, Paramedics perform roles in NHS and independent Ambulance organisations, as well as in GP practices, offshore, on cruise ships, on events and the very many settings that have opened up from the progression of the profession (which I do acknowledge, has been ‘largely’ supported by the CoP).

Fundamentally, I have no personal issue with the College, but I will be removing my support as a Member until they take significant steps to move away from supporting the proportion of their members who work in the NHS – and into supporting the entire profession, across the board. If nothing else, I owe this to the many hundreds of UK Registered Paramedics who work with Jigsaw, both in the UK and overseas.

I’ve sent my cancellation email today and I will continue to watch the development of the College from the sidelines, with interest.

PS: For the record this does not mean I will no longer be a Paramedic (it’s the HCPC who are responsible for this), I just won’t be a member of the Professional Body for Paramedics.

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