Only 40 armed forces paramedics are qualified to work in the NHS

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There are only 40 paramedics in the armed forces who would be qualified to work in the NHS, figures uncovered by the Liberal Democrats have revealed.

The government has admitted in response to a parliamentary question that the armed forces have 107 paramedics, of which 40 are confirmed as meeting the qualification requirements set out by the Health and Care Professions Council. These are the qualifications needed in order to practise as a paramedic in the UK.

The figures were uncovered through a parliamentary question tabled by Liberal Democrat Health Spokesperson Daisy Cooper MP.

It comes as the government has set out plans to bring in military personnel to drive ambulances and support the NHS during the strikes due to take place this month.

Daisy Cooper said:

This shocking revelation lays bare the chaos our health services face.

The Government has got to sort this out now before people’s lives are put at risk. Their patchwork plan to keep ambulance services running has filled the public with anxiety about the days to come. Emergency health services have already been starved of funding by this Government leading to dangerously high waiting times, and will now be plunged into even more chaos if these strikes go ahead.

Ministers need to get round the table and ensure these strikes are called off. Their grandstanding against nurses and paramedics only puts the public at risk.

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  • To be honest, I am struggling to believe this. I would have imagined that our armed forces would have had paramedics in the hundreds at least, or several thousand. What does this tell us about the state of our armed forces?

  • Why is any one surprised, given what we saw a short while back with respect to army fuel tanker drivers, namely, whilst the army had fuel tankers they had no one qualified to legally drive them on the public roads.

  • Phil Beesley 14th Dec '22 - 5:08pm

    I suspect it is about paper qualifications rather than ability. Pilots, teachers, project managers, quantity surveyors, domestic electricians — loads of people were once “certified” but have allowed some to expire.

  • rural liberal 15th Dec '22 - 9:12am

    Not massively surprising (I am a former serviceman) – but there’s also the ‘Green Goddess’ angle, where in the past fire service provision was covered by people with basic training and 60 year old fire engines, to a much lesser standard but some coverage.

    The forces do not have an enormous box of NHS qualified paramedics, and when they need such (as has been said) that’s what the territorials are for.

    Overall, this works well because the forces day to day simply wouldn’t provide the environment to keep paramedic skills sufficiently current, so it’s difficult to see how they could have many more of them than they do – without just loaning them almost permanently to the NHS (which would basically be the current system in reverse).

    As an aside, that would almost definitely (because it’s the way the world works) lead to the NHS becoming used to this pool of on-loan paramedics that it didn’t pay for, such that if they had to go and do something military, it would hit the NHS.

    Anyway, back to the original point, what the forces do have in spades is people with more medical training than the average civilian, and used to rough and ready triage, treatment, and getting people to a professional. The Green Goddesses of ambulance work. Not a paramedic, but more than an old-school ambulance driver.

    That’s the sort of cover that the forces *could* provide, but it should surprise no-one that it’s not overflowing with like-for-like paramedics.

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