Australian ambulance officers in London’s sights

Australian ambulance officers in London’s sights

The London Ambulance Service wants Australian paramedics to join its ranks to help meet an ever-growing demand for emergency care.

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More paramedics are needed in the city due to year-on-year increases in demand and a move to more registered healthcare professionals overseeing patient care.

The shortage of skilled British paramedics has prompted an aggressive bid to entice Australian paramedics to make the move. The London Ambulance Service is hoping to sign up 250 new recruits at a series of interviews in Australia next month.

Some Australian ambulance officers have already taken the plunge.

Verity Reinke describes the move from Adelaide to Europe’s biggest city as “an incredible change”.

“There are better opportunities for career progression here than anywhere else and being exposed to more diverse cases and more exciting challenges is really improving my clinical skills.

“Nothing can beat the experience of working in this city. It’s busier, faster and more exciting than anywhere else.”

Claire Anderson says working Europe’s largest and most densely populated city – with a population of 8.3 million people – is a different feeling. 

“The jobs in Australia would probably be different to the jobs in London,” she told SBS World News.

“One minute you go to someone who has cut their finger or grazed their knee after falling off a skateboard; and the next minute you can go to a cardiac arrest in a public place, say in the middle of Oxford Street, where there is a couple of hundred people watching you.”

Ben Jones says the emergency calls are unpredictable and keep the officers on their toes. 

“You never know what is going to come down the screen next and what you’re going to be sent to. It’s really busy so you build up a lot of experience really, really quickly.”

The push for Australian paramedics is a practical approach to meeting London’s shortfall. While training a new paramedic from scratch takes up to three years, retraining those from overseas is far quicker, requiring only a short four-week conversion course.

London Ambulance Service director of operations Jason Killens says the service deals with about 3,000 emergencies everyday. 

He says the growing demand has forced them to actively recruit overseas for the first time.

“We’re looking to recruit paramedics from Australia where the skills and training closely match those in the UK,” he said.

“Aussie paramedics coming here to London can of course benefit from great opportunities and experience that we can offer as the biggest ambulance service here in the UK and indeed globally.” 

He says the breadth of tasks are diverse as staff are divided into teams: special events, flight paramedics, cycle response unit and fast response cars. 

“As the largest city in Europe and one of the most densely populated, the work of London paramedics is fast paced, but nowhere else will you experience such diversity. This month alone, we’ve treated tens of thousands of patients, including those at music concerts in Hyde Park and at Tour de France which came through London.”

Australian paramedics who make the switch can expect to earn around $75,000 a year.

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