The Pre Hospital Emergency Care Council (PHECC) is the regulator for emergency medical services in Ireland and their role is to protect the public. The roles and responsibilities of PHECC include developing Education and Training Standards for awarding qualifications and developing Clinical Practice Guidelines for operational use.
Organisations who wish to teach using PHECC Education and Training Standards, must apply to PHECC to become a Recognised Institution. Organisations, who wish to be operational, and use the PHECC Clinical Practice Guidelines, must apply separately for an annual licence to operate.
As the regulator, PHECC do not issue certificates directly. Qualifications recognised by PHECC are awarded through a Recognised Institution. My Department through the Civil Defence College in Roscrea is currently and continues to be a PHECC Recognised Institution, and delivers training and awards qualifications to Civil Defence volunteers.
The concerns raised recently relate to Civil Defence’s annual licence to operate and provide emergency medical services. This licence is required for volunteers who are qualified to Emergency Medical Technician level or above and who are acting for Civil Defence.
When Civil Defence’s current operating licence was up for renewal in November 2018, my officials reviewed the current Statutory Declaration which must be signed by organisations who wish to provide emergency medical services. That review identified that some assurances and details required as part of the licensing process are not within the control or remit of the Department of Defence as responsibility for operations rests with Local Authorities. In contrast, my Department as set out in the 2015 Government White Paper on Defence sets down National Civil Defence policy and provides up to 70% of the cost of delivering Civil Defence services in each Local Authority.
My officials have been working closely with senior officials in both PHECC and Local Authorities since January of this year in order to find a satisfactory solution to this issue, while conscious of the unique structure of Civil Defence.
Following recent engagement between officials from my Department and from the County and City Management Association, it has been agreed that Local Authorities will provide some of the assurances required as part of the signing of the Statutory Declaration. In order to allow Local Authorities put in place the necessary processes and collate the required assurances, my officials have applied for a further extension to its existing licence which currently expires on 30 July 2019.
I can assure you, I am committed to ensuring the excellent service Civil Defence volunteers provide in terms of emergency medical services continues beyond the 30 July 2019.