Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 5/12/2016 (1219 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
In November, Health Minister Kelvin Goertzen announced plans to engage stakeholders in a consultation process to identify the best path toward establishing the self-regulation of Manitoba paramedics, as recommended in December 2014 by the Health Professions Advisory Council.
Following that announcement, an op-ed appeared in the Winnipeg Free Press ("Self-regulation not the answer for EMS," Dec. 2) suggesting that problems in emergency medical service delivery and rural working conditions were driving the call for paramedic self-regulation in our province. It went on to allege that self-regulation will be costly, create an additional level of bureaucracy and have a negative impact on paramedic services across Manitoba. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
Paramedics are one of the very few health care providers in Manitoba not currently included in the Regulated Health Professions Act, legislation that ensures openness, transparency and public participation in the regulation of health professions. This legislation focuses on public safety and accountability. It provides direction for the self-regulation of doctors, nurses, midwives, respiratory therapists and 17 other medical professions.
Manitobans expect the paramedic that is treating them or their loved ones to be held to the same standards as all other health-care providers. Assuring that public interest is what drives the need for change and the recent government decision to move forward with self-regulation for paramedics.
Paramedic self-regulation will not be costly to taxpayers, and in fact, it stands to save the public more than half a million dollars annually. Paramedics in Manitoba are currently regulated by the Department of Health, Seniors and Active Living, and, as such, all associated costs are paid for by the provincial government. A transition from government regulation to self-regulation would shift that financial responsibility, in whole, to members of the profession, saving the provincial government and Manitoba taxpayers a considerable amount every year.
Even more importantly, though, the shift from government regulation to paramedic self-regulation ensures the profession is acting in the best interest of the public and is able to be more responsive to public health-care needs. Despite best intentions, by nature, government regulation is too often slow to respond and adapt to change. The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Manitoba has called the current government model for paramedic regulation archaic.
Self-regulation is based on the concept that members of a profession, based on their knowledge, skills and judgment, are best suited to oversee their profession in the public interest. Conversion from government regulation to self-regulation is just that: a change from what exists today to a more responsive and patient-oriented governance model. It is not the creation of a secondary or additional level of bureaucracy, as has been suggested by those who fear a self-regulatory structure.
The role of paramedicine has changed considerably over the past two decades and continues to evolve rapidly. Demands placed on health services, an aging population, our ability to provide more definitive treatments outside the hospital environment and mounting public expectations have entrenched paramedics firmly in the health-care system. The emphasis on increasing paramedic education, qualifications and scope of practice has followed the progression of other health professions such as nursing, midwifery and therapy disciplines. With increased responsibility comes a need for the type of robust and accountable regulatory mechanism provided by self-regulation under the Regulated Health Professions Act.
Self-regulation will enhance the level of professionalism and ensure protection of the public. Whether a paramedic goes to work in an ambulance, a fire truck, a helicopter or an airplane, they are providing medical care. In one thing we can all agree: our aim is to provide the best medical care possible to the citizens of Manitoba. Now is not the time for negative union messaging and battles over power and dominance. Rather it is time to bring paramedic standards and professional oversight to the level that we all expect from every other health care provider.
Premier Brian Pallister and his cabinet have said that paramedics should be designated as health professionals through self-regulation, and that this change is necessary to ensure the highest standards in paramedical care for patients. I applaud the government’s commitment to fulfil their promise to make that change in the interests of safety and protection for all Manitobans.
Eric Glass is the administrative director of the Paramedic Association of Manitoba.
Updated on Monday, December 5, 2016 at 3:38 PM CST: corrects typo