Ambulance Watch: Trust rules out possibility of hiring paramedics from overseas

An ambulance technician and paramedic.

An ambulance technician and paramedic. - Credit: Evening News © 2009

Officials from the region's under-performing ambulance service have ruled out a foreign recruitment campaign after it emerged that there were almost 200 vacancies for qualified paramedics across the East.

Ambulance chiefs in London were granted permission earlier this week to start hiring from Australia and New Zealand to help fill 250 vacancies. However, the East of England Ambulance Service is not looking overseas to meet a shortfall in qualified front-line lifesavers and has no plans to, according to the trust.

The organisation, which has been criticised over the last two years for slow response times and a lack of qualified staff, has begun recruiting hundreds of student paramedics.

Figures from the College of Paramedics show that there are between 2,000 and 2,500 vacancies across England. And the East of England Ambulance Service currently has 178 vacancies for qualified paramedics. The ambulance service's former chief executive, Andrew Morgan, last year said he was looking into the possibility of hiring from Canada and Australia.

However, a spokesman for the NHS trust said new chief executive, Anthony Marsh, who is also CEO of the West Midlands Ambulance Service, was focusing on resolving the staffing shortage by hiring 400 student paramedics over the next year.

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'The trust has several hundred paramedic vacancies, taking into account predicted staff turnover and existing vacancies. We are focusing on recruiting 400 student paramedics plus graduate paramedics. The first cohort of student paramedics began their training at the start of April and the second cohort will start their training next week with further courses planned throughout the year.'

'We are not looking abroad or any specific countries or no plans to,' said the spokesman.

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It comes after the UK Border Agency approved London Ambulance Service's application to sponsor work visas for non-European paramedics.

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