Degree requirement for new Scots paramedics

Ambulance service and NHS educators drawing up university courses taking effect from 2021

Wednesday 12th June 2019

From September 2021, aspiring Scots paramedics will have to complete undergraduate degrees that will be offered at universities across Scotland, following planned changes by the UK regulator.

Currently, ambulance technicians who want to become paramedics have to complete a two-year diploma at the Scottish Ambulance Academy.

The changes do not affect current paramedics or those who are already in training.

John Burnham, who heads the team developing the degree programme, said it was “an important step forward in the development of the paramedic profession”.

The new paramedic degree, which is being developed by the ambulance service and NHS Education Scotland, will welcome its first students in September next year and the first qualified graduate paramedics will enter work in September 2023.

Currently, a paramedic science diploma is only offered at the Scottish Ambulance Academy at Glasgow Caledonian University, which will stop accepting students in 2021.

Under the new plans, ‘multiple’ universities will offer degree programmes, to ensure the ambulance service is ‘able to recruit sufficient numbers of paramedics’.

Many English universities already have three-year degrees, as well as foundation degrees and diplomas.

Some ambulance trusts also have the option of paramedic apprenticeships.

The Health & Care Professions Council, which regulates 16 professions across the UK, said a higher level of training was needed to deliver ‘the standards of proficiency to the depth required in contemporary practice’.

Mr Burnham added: “[This] ensures that all allied health professionals have the opportunity to undertake their education alongside each other, developing a wider understanding of both their individual and collective benefit to deliver integrated patient care.”