A NEW paramedic role reflecting the skills and experience life-saving ambulance workers need in a modern health service is to be created in Wales.

The Welsh Government's health secretary Vaughan Gething has announced Band 5 paramedics in the Welsh Ambulance Service will be able to move up to a newly-created Band 6 role.

NHS jobs are organised into bands reflecting the skills and qualifications required, along with pay scales. The higher the band, the higher the skills and pay.

The new role, which is being create following talks involving the Welsh Ambulance Service, the Welsh Government, trade unions and the Emergency Ambulance Services Committee, will come into effect at the start of October.

Announcing the new role, Mr Gething said: “Over time the role of the paramedic has fundamentally changed.

“Today their enhanced role spans both emergency and unscheduled care, providing advanced treatments for patients with serious clinical needs but also assessing and signposting patients to the right part of the health system to deliver the care they need.

“They provide advanced life support, make emergency treatment decisions and practice in an environment with a level autonomy not experienced by others working in our health service. Paramedics are also able to work across the whole healthcare sector rather than being restricted to traditional ambulance crew roles."

Letters will be sent to paramedics outlining what is involved in the new role, and frameworks of support and development will be put in place to enable staff to gain the skills required. It is expected the process will be complete by 2021.

Director of operations at the Welsh Ambulance Service Richard Lee said: “Our paramedics provide excellent clinical care across Wales every day and this new job description and development package will allow patients to receive even better care, in many cases closer to home.

“It also recognises the skills of our staff as the paramedic role develops into the 21st century, not only providing treatment for those in need of urgent care, but also assessing patients with less urgent needs who need help accessing the right part of the health system.”

Chief ambulance service commissioner for Wales Stephen Harrhy also welcomed the news.

"The role of paramedics has evolved and this agreement, which has been achieved through successful partnership working, recognises the additional responsibilities and skills needed to carry out their work,” he said.

And ambulance lead with public sector trade union Unison Darron Dupre called the news "a win-win for paramedics and patients".

"This announcement is all about giving paramedics the cutting edge skills to deal with the changing face of healthcare in Wales," he said.

“These new skills are directly aligned to the most frequent conditions which lead people to call the ambulance service. It’s a great deal for paramedics and it’s a great deal for the people of Wales.”

Nathan Holman of trade union GMB called the news "a landmark move that is long overdue" and Roger John of Unite said: “The deal will increase the scope of practice and skill level of paramedics in Wales, offering a more holistic and appropriate treatment option to the patients that access the Welsh Ambulance Service.”