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House of Commons Hansard
Iraq and Afghanistan
06 March 2007
Volume 457
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To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what steps are being taken to recruit and train paramedics to serve with the front lines in (a) Iraq and (b) Afghanistan; and if he will make a statement. [123445]

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[holding answer 28 February 2007]: The single services each currently assess that their individual requirement for paramedics who would meet the civilian Health Professions Council (HPC) criteria is small, and each recruits and trains personnel to meet their particular requirements.

Royal Navy

The Navy recruits and trains a range of personnel who come under the heading of medical assistants, many of whom undertake equivalent tasks to civilian paramedics but who would not meet the specific HPC criteria. Medical assistants are recruited and trained according to an overall Navy requirement rather than in support of a specific land-based deployment to, for example, Iraq or Afghanistan. With regard to specific deployments, medical assistants undertake the same pre-deployment training as other medical personnel. Within the cadre of medical assistants there are a number of sub-specialties such as operating department practitioners, commando, and submarine who will also receive extra training for their speciality.


The Army Medical Service (AMS) does have a small number of paramedics. However, the majority of personnel are recruited as combat medical technicians (CMTs) whose duties are similar to those of ambulance technicians but with additional primary health care and military acute care training, which is developed to meet the particular needs of combat. Although the Regular and Territorial Army have recruited a few qualified civilian paramedics, CMTs generally join as unqualified individuals and then receive specific medical training while they are serving. A small number of CMTs have been selected for paramedic training.

While basic training for all operations is the same, all AMS personnel undertake pre-deployment training prior to operations to ensure that skills are tailored to the specific threats of that theatre. MOD has contracts with the East Anglia and Great Western NHS Ambulance Trusts. East Anglia provides ambulance technician training for Army combat medical technicians and Great Western provides full paramedic training to achieve Health Professions Council registration.


There are currently no established paramedic posts in the RAF. However, the RAF has recently identified an operational requirement of 65 medical assistants to be trained as paramedics. Work is currently being undertaken by the Personnel and Policy Steering Group to fulfil this requirement, with the aim of training appropriate personnel during the next two years.

To comply with the RAF operational requirements for their helicopter immediate response teams, the RAF personnel will also receive training to work with the Great Western helicopter emergency services.