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London Ambulance Service is to return to Australia to recruit more foreign paramedics to help plug almost 250 front-line vacancies.

The UK’s busiest ambulance service aims to cash-in on the difficulty newly-qualified paramedics have in finding work in Australia by luring another 150 to the capital. Three previous recruitment drives Down Under netted 550 staff – 280 are already at work and 270 are about to start their training.

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Natasha Wills, assistant director of operations at LAS, said: “Our last recruitment events in Melbourne and Sydney were so successful that we’re hoping to attract even more paramedics to join us in London this time.

“There are so many different opportunities with London Ambulance that you can’t get anywhere else, such as working on a motorbike, cycle or car or for the hazardous area response team. I’d encourage any Australian to come and make the most of their career in London as a recognised paramedic – you won’t regret it.”

A LAS recruitment team will spend a week in both Sydney and Melbourne in April. The shortage of staff has meant it has consistently failed to hit response times for 999 calls, and saw the organisation placed in special measures by the Care Quality Commission.

The service also wants “home grown” paramedics and has opened a “training academy” in Fulham to enable lower-rank staff to become registered paramedics. Eighteen trainees began their studies earlier this month, with a further 18 due to start on the two-year part-time course later this year.

LAS chief executive Dr Fionna Moore said: “The academy will not only help boost staff retention, but will also complement our current campaign to recruit qualified paramedics.
“After feedback from staff on the need for further education and development we hope this programme will offer a clear and defined career path.

“Once qualified, trainees will also have the option of further career development by going on to train as a senior paramedic, advanced paramedic practitioner or even a paramedic consultant.”