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NEWS RELEASE · 21st April 2010
Ministry of Health Services
Amendments to the Emergency and Health Services Act introduced today as part of a miscellaneous bill supports government's commitment to integrate the ambulance service more closely with the health system, particularly in rural and remote areas, with innovative ways to enhance and expand the role that paramedics play in serving patients.

"Last month we announced that the ambulance service will be integrated more closely with the health-care system," said Health Services Minister Kevin Falcon. "These amendments will give us the ability to have paramedics provide a wider range of emergency and non-emergency services right across the health system, fully utilizing the skill set of our paramedics and, in particular, giving part-time paramedics the ability to pursue more full-time opportunities in a more integrated system."

By bringing paramedics closer to the health system, they will be empowered to make health-care decisions to improve patient care. Examples of where the Province sees paramedics providing additional support include dealing with people who have chronic diseases in residential-care facilities, joining home- and community-care workers in supporting clients in their homes, and providing care in emergency departments.

Amendments will support regulations that authorize expansion and enhancement of the roles of appropriately trained paramedics, including paving the way for the introduction of 'treat and release'. Under 'treat and release', a paramedic called to a scene could assess a patient, provide appropriate treatment and advise of follow-up care instead of having to transport the patient to the emergency department.

"These legislative changes will provide the opportunity for paramedics to play a much greater role in health-care delivery, especially in rural and remote areas. Enhancing and expanding the scope of paramedic work will benefit paramedics, patients and the public," said Dr. Jim Christenson, vice-president of medical programs for the Emergency and Health Services Commission.

"We are looking for fundamental system change to improve emergency services across the province particularly in rural and remote areas including exploration of innovative ways to enhance the role that paramedics play in serving the needs of patients," added Falcon. "The new enhanced role will also move us towards providing opportunities for full-time, family-supporting jobs for paramedics."

Plans to integrate ambulance services more closely with the health-care system as the most logical and appropriate way to improve patient care and renew the BC Ambulance Service were announced on March 11, 2010. The new approach was based in part on a month long consultation on options for new service delivery models identified in a report that looked at three options: closer integration within the health system, closer integration with other emergency service providers and opportunities for private-sector service delivery.

Expanding and enhancing the role of paramedics in British Columbia for emergency and non-emergency services is part of the Province's innovation and change agenda to reduce the growth rate of health-care costs, while raising productivity and improving health outcomes, as one of the best options to keep the health-care system sustainable.

For more on the amendments in the Miscellaneous Statutes Amendment Act CLICK HERE