Students reconsidering their options after receiving their A-level results are being offered a £2,000-a-year university bursary to encourage them to become paramedics.
London Ambulance Service has increased from 250 to 600 the number of annual places it will offer to students in a bid to plug a long-standing shortage of frontline staff.
The places are available at four universities – with one partnership between St George’s, University of London and Kingston university boasting high-tech simulation rooms to make the training as realistic as possible.
The recruitment plan is a key part of LAS’s long-term strategy to attract and train Londoners. It has been forced to hire hundreds of Australian paramedics as a short-term solution to solving its vacancy crisis, and will return Down Under next month for a third visit.
LAS places on £9,000-a-year paramedic science BSc courses are available at St George’s, Greenwich, Hertfordshire and Anglia Ruskin universities. London paramedics currently start on a salary of £31,456.
Jane Thomas of LAS said: “I see it as a real positive. It’s very exciting for us and it’s good to bring new blood into the profession. We will have more people on the road and high-quality staff who will be able to treat Londoners.”
Daniel Ryan, 23, a former nurse living in Streatham, started work as a London paramedic on Monday after completing his paramedic training at St George’s.
He said: “It’s something I have always wanted to do. I have always been attracted to the diversity the role offers, being out and about and being able to treat a non-specific group of patients. The course itself is run by paramedics who have a wealth of experience.”
Chris Baker, paramedic science admissions tutor at St George’s, said it had about 50 places left. “I think this campaign is so necessary,” he said.
“There is this national shortage of paramedics. We need to get people working in ambulances and urgent care centres to make sure the public have got what they need. This is a fantastic job.”