A city university is to boost the training capacity for new paramedics in Scotland.
Robert Gordon University (RGU) has launched the BSc Paramedic Practice course, which will be delivered from September 2020.
It aims to bring undergraduate education for the job to Grampian and the Highlands and Islands, and will give students access to improved and more localised education and training opportunities.
The course has been created to provide a new regional approach to education, and to address the learning requirement for registering in the profession through the Health Care Professions Council (HCPC).
It is hoped to boost the number of staff who stay in the region after they have completed their training.
The university has been awarded two contracts, to cover Grampian and the Highlands and Islands.
Professor John Harper, Principal of RGU, said: “It is a great privilege to be selected to provide this course in Scotland, adding to our proud history of quality healthcare education which addresses national skills needs.”
Concerns have previously been raised about ambulance staff shortages, after it emerged last year that staff sickness had peaked to levels almost the same as for the entire year of 2017/18, with 137 paramedics signed off in seven months.
The new course could encourage more people to take up the role in Grampian.
Professor Ian Murray, head of the School of Nursing and Midwifery at RGU, added: “We will be working in partnership with the Scottish Ambulance Service (SAS) to develop the new course and train the future paramedics of Scotland.
“The two contracts awarded will involve a minimum of 40 students per year and will significantly increase the reach of our demand-led teaching.”
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From September 2021, all new students will need to undertake a degree-level programme to become a paramedic.
Training is currently provided at the Scottish Ambulance Academy at Glasgow Caledonian University.
Scottish Ambulance Service chief executive Pauline Howie said: “We are absolutely delighted to work in partnership with these universities.
“It is exciting to know they will be educating new generations of paramedics who will enter the workforce armed with the latest skills and trained to the highest standards.
“These changes not only increase our capacity for training more paramedics, helping us meet predictions for future demands of patients, but they support the delivery of integrated health and social care.”