The vision for Transformation of Ambulance Services set out in Taking Healthcare to the Patient (Department of Health, 2005) recognised the need for the delivery of a range of services from responding to and treating acute trauma, to the delivery of preventative health promotion. The publication also included plans to redesign services that would lead to a reduction in A&E referrals for patients who would be better treated elsewhere. The Association of Ambulance Chiefs (2011) reports that education programmes now include community modules aimed at supporting the development of clinical assessment and decision making, and consideration of alternatives to A&E. Recommendations for further improvements have been made to enable ambulance clinicians to better utilise opportunities for health promotion, improving the care of older people and those with long term conditions. Working with the wider health and care services will be needed to deliver this transformation (National Ambulance Service Medical Directors, 2014).
Knowledge of services and referral processes can only support these developments. The paramedic programme at Canterbury Christ Church University recognises the valuable contribution of experiences that develop wider knowledge of community based services supporting practitioners to make safe, effective decisions for patients in their care. With the changing face of pre-registration education and training, alongside the evolving roles of professional practitioners within health and care (NHS England, 2015), it is timely to explore how we can provide meaningful and relevant practice education opportunities to our pre-registration students. The focus for here is for those undertaking the BSc (Hons) Paramedic Science degree as a route to registration with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC).