Paramedics will get state-of-the-art training from a new ground-breaking course launched by the University of Sunderland in partnership with North East Ambulance Service.
Starting in September, the programme, which is a first for the city, aims to address the national paramedic shortage and see the North East Ambulance Service (NEAS) invest in its staff.
The shortage comes after changes to training which means it now takes longer for paramedics to qualify, and more competition for paramedic services outside of the ambulance service.
The two-year Diploma of Higher Education in Paramedic Practice has been accredited by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) and is tailored to meet local needs, with a maximum of three cohorts of 20 students per year.
Students will be employed by NEAS and will be able to combine theoretical learning with operational shifts. They will also undertake clinical placements across a range of healthcare environments.
The first intake of the course, based at University’s new Living Lab facility, will be for internal NEAS applicants, after which the course will be open to any students aged 18 and over.
Yvonne Ormston, NEAS chief executive, said after the course students will have to go through a recruitment process.
She said: “Our new partnership with the University of Sunderland will allow us to grow our own paramedics through a regular intake, on top of the graduate paramedics we already accept from our successful partnership with Teesside University.
“This new course also allows us to invest in and develop our workforce by enabling them to progress their careers without the need to leave the Trust.
“We are looking for people with the right approach – they need to have empathy and compassion and demonstrate they can look after patients. The course is both theoretical and practical so that people can really get a chance to learn about these skills in the theoretical sense, but employ them in a practical sense.”
Victoria Duffy, programme leader, said students can apply to be a student paramedic on the NHS Jobs website.
She said: “The diploma will educate and develop students into effective practitioners, able to care for patients in a range of challenging and unpredictable situations. It’s designed to reduce the gap between theory and practice.”