New standard brings critical road ambulance and aeromedical services up to date

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NZS 8156:2019 Ambulance, paramedicine, and patient transfer services has been revised, in partnership with Ambulance New Zealand, bringing best practice in this sector up to date. This standard is the basis for measuring quality, safety, and competency within New Zealand’s road ambulance and aeromedical services.

It is cited in emergency ambulance contracts by the National Ambulance Sector Office (NASO), who jointly purchase these services for the Ministry of Health (MoH) and Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC).

It applies to all modes of road vehicle where ambulance provision is the primary capability of the vehicle, and to aircraft and marine craft specifically equipped for ambulance provision.

Committee chair, Ian Wilmot, says the update is timely, as the standard was last updated in 2008. 'Over the past 10 years there have been significant changes in the delivery of ambulance and paramedical services and it was well overdue for an update,' he explains.

Consequently, the standard has been revised to reflect updated recognised practice, offering a modernised compliance document that is fit for purpose. It will help provide a safer, nationally consistent ambulance and paramedical service through a number of key changes, including a new section 9, which focuses on inter-hospital transport.

Commenting on the new section 9 Ian says: 'As we worked through the standard it became apparent that there was no section in the current standard for inter-hospital patient transfers by road. Following review and extensive feedback, there’s a brand new section that covers this.'

Committee member David Waters, Chief Executive, Ambulance New Zealand, says the updated standard has been a long time coming. 'The new standard reflects the wide range of changes that have occurred in paramedic practice over the last 10 years,' he says. 'It was great that we were able to get such good industry representation and achieve 100 percent consensus in such a large standards committee.'

He also highlights the collaborative process that was achieved by the new partnership model between the commissioners of the standard and Standards New Zealand.

'We were able to utilise dedicated external expertise to fast track the process,' he says. 'We were able to introduce efficiencies into the process and reduce the cost of developing this standard.'

While the updated standard is a good step forward, both Ian and David stress it’s important for the next review to take place in the next three to four years, particularly with paramedical registrations due to come into force in the next couple of years.

Published in health.