AMBULANCE chiefs have been urged to listen to staff and patient groups ahead of changing the way the system operates.
A union has welcomed the news that Yorkshire Ambulance Service says it will significantly increase its number of qualified paramedics.
YAS says it will bring in emergency care assistants to work alongside paramedics, but they do not have the same skills as fully-trained paramedics.
One union leader says they should look at how the planned emergency care assistant role has worked elsewhere.
Adrian Gilbert, acting general secretary of the Association of Professional Ambulance Personnel (APAP), says many of the emergency care assistants in the West Midlands have now re-trained as technicians.
Mr Gilbert, also a full time emergency responder, said: “Ambulances have a driver technician and a paramedic. The paramedic can carry out invasive techniques, administer drugs and use defibrillators. A technician is similar but they cannot do invasive techniques.
“The emergency care assistants are a level below the technician, they do as an important job as anyone else and they can assist with resuscitation and treatment, but they have fewer skills. In the West Midlands, which introduced emergency care assistants around four years ago, many of them have now re-trained as technicians.
“There are still a few due to contracts, but many have chosen to gain more skills and are therefore paid more.
“That’s because they weren’t working as they were intended to, they needed the skills of the technician level.”
The APAP says that many trusts nationwide are looking to introduce the emergency care assistant role.
Yorkshire emergency care assistants will be trained to undertake emergency blue light response driving.
Mr Gilbert advised trusts to consider the views of staff : “We certainly feel there is a lot to learn from listening to staff and taking the advice of patient groups. We recognise there has to be changes but there may be other ways.”