A specialist centre dedicated to providing the ambulance service with improved access to top-level training and academic expertise has officially opened. The Centre for Paramedic Science, run by Kingston University and St Georgeâ€™s, University of London, is set to serve as a hub for course delivery and a raft of revolutionary research. Its development positions the two institutions firmly at the forefront of paramedic education in the United Kingdom.
Based within Kingston and St Georgeâ€™s joint Faculty of Health and Social Care Sciences, the Centre will offer an array of diploma and degree-level courses aimed at both newcomers to the ambulance service and more experienced personnel. Centre staff will also be in the driving seat for a swathe of studies expected to have a significant influence on how the service moves forward.
Strong partnerships with the London Ambulance Service and South East Coast Ambulance Service (SECAmb) will underpin the Centreâ€™s work. These links have already led to a growing number of new recruits, technicians, emergency care practitioners and paramedic practitioners signing up to complete qualifications awarded by the Faculty, boosting their skills through a mix of e-learning, face-to-face teaching at regional training centres and work-based experience. In a more recent venture, the Faculty has worked closely with the Metropolitan Police devising courses to help staff from across the emergency services contend with the pressures of dealing with major incidents as they unfold.
Deputy Dean Kath Start said the Faculty had come a long way from its first foray into paramedic course development just five years ago when it joined forces with the London Ambulance Service to add a new pathway to its Foundation Degree in Health and Medical Sciences and run programmes for emergency care practitioners. â€œOur rapid expansion in this field reflects a phenomenal level of demand across the sector for qualifications to complement on-the-job experience and a far greater recognition of the way academic input can improve service delivery,â€ Mrs Start said. â€œThe days when university study was much more likely to be the domain of doctors, nurses and other specialists staffing Britainâ€™s hospitals have long gone. The emergency care practitioners, paramedics and technicians who every day provide such a swift and effective response at the frontline of the National Health Service now quite rightly receive the recognition they deserve for their range of professional skills. As the NHS has modernised and evolved so too have their job roles, meaning the Centre has a vital role to play in ensuring they have as many opportunities as possible to enhance their knowledge.â€
The Centreâ€™s pioneering work in paramedic education will not only be confined to the United Kingdom. Its team has been commissioned to support the Gibraltarian Government with a major project to renew and develop its ambulance service and is also lined up to liaise with the Centre for Ambulance Services for the Government of Dubai. Other links will see Kingston and St Georgeâ€™s paramedic scientists share their academic acumen in other parts of the Middle East and as far afield as South Africa and Australia.
The chief executive of the College of Paramedics, Roland Furber, commended Kingston University and St Georgeâ€™s, University of London for the commitment they had shown to boosting professional registration and career development. â€œParamedic education has entered a new era in recent years as a greater emphasis is placed on ensuring we are better able to meet the needs of our patients,â€ he said. â€œThe launch of the Centre for Paramedic Science and the work already undertaken by the two institutions will be pivotal in creating a new generation of professionals to lead the way in out-of-hospital emergency care.â€