These are very challenging times with numerous cancellations of clinical placements and restrictions of what students can and cannot do. The College of Paramedics has been working very hard and continues to do so, in dealing with a moving agenda of priorities.
We have liaised with every single paramedic science programme-lead linked to an approved HCPC pre-registration programme. The messages received back to us changed this week from placements as normal through to many restrictions on what you could and could not do and in recent days, universities and ambulance services stopping all placements. We recognise this is out of your control and the universities have told us that a very supportive approach will be taken by them to help you progress from this year into next year and indeed to be ready to graduate. A very flexible approach is being taken by the HCPC in relation to final assessments and sign-off against Standards of Proficiency. Your HEI will advise on this as they rethink examination regulations.
There is an ongoing discussion to allow some final-year student paramedics to gain employment early and hold a temporary registration with the HCPC. In addition, students may be approached at all years to undertake an Emergency Care Assistant (or equivalent) job role. This is optional, and you need to think carefully and decide if this is the right path for you at this stage in your development. We know you want to help and feel like you are contributing, that is why you wanted to become a paramedic in the first place.
The College recognises these are unprecedented times in relation to the sudden and unexpected pressure on the whole national health system, therefore it requires brave responses from us all. Chief Executive, Tracy Nicholls, the Executive Team and Trustees are in constant dialogue with senior leaders across the health service and together we will lead the profession through these times of unprecedented challenge.
We have expressed our personal concern on your behalf on the lack of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) available both for students and all front-line staff. We have asked that all students can chose to work or not work and stay and study, a discussion which should be had with your HEI in the first instance. We feel you should be given full uniform and protective equipment that is equivalent to that provided to all staff on the front-line. We have asked that you are paid whilst receiving any additional training to undertake your role effectively. We have also been lobbying for full COVID-19 testing to be available to all our members exposed on the clinical front line.
All clinical experience should be beneficial to your development, but it also exposes you to stress and serious challenges as you make complex decisions that may impact on your own mental health and wellbeing. If you decide to take on these operational roles, you must be realistic and ensure that you have access to appropriate support. We would encourage you to maintain an open dialogue with your colleagues and your tutors. You may be asked to fulfil a role that you had not expected to for some time to come; for example, you may not have a practice educator supporting you and you may be asked to make tough clinical decisions, on your own, in difficult circumstances.
We are continuing to work on your behalf, and we want to express our thanks and deepest gratitude for what some of you will be doing this summer.