Tasmanian paramedics are underutilised in rural areas - and in some cases - restrained by legislation from performing duties, a parliamentary inquiry has heard.
Regional paramedic practitioner Emma Thornley told a Legislative Council committee on Friday the past 20 years of working in the profession had given her keen insights into rural practice and how regional communities lived.
She said rural health had been on a downward trajectory towards crisis over that time.
Ms Thornley said when early intervention health measures were not available in rural communities, paramedics were left to deal with problems as they exacerbated.
She said paramedics in these areas had to fill the gap left by a lack of primary care options and after hours care.
A university lecturer in paramedicine, Ms Thornley said the scope of practice for paramedics could be at times restricted by the Ambulance Service Act, in terms of providing treatment, and the Poisons Act for administering drugs.
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Ms Thornley said she was stationed at a COVID-19 vaccination clinic recently, but due to not having been employed by Ambulance Tasmania, she was restricted from treating anyone who might have had an anaphylactic reaction post-vaccination.
This was despite her being highly trained over two decades in emergency medicine.
Ms Thornley said the Ambulance Service Act needed to be changed.
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"The purpose of the act should be to protect the ability of the government service to deliver emergency ambulance responses in the community," she said.
"It shouldn't be to restrict a workforce who are independently registered so they can't work for anyone else."
Ms Thornley said through the legislation, it was ultimately the government's loss that highly trained health professionals, like paramedics, could not fully utilise their skills and experience out in the Tasmanian community.
"We can really be part of the solution," she said.
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