Ambulance Care Assistant

The Job and What's Involved

Ambulance care assistants (ACAs) transfer non-emergency patients to and from health or social care settings, including hospitals, for pre-arranged appointments. They are sometimes known as Patient Transport Service (PTS) drivers.

Your duties as an ACA would include:

  • Helping patients out of their home and into the ambulance (which may involve some lifting).
  • Transporting patients safely, comfortably and in good time to their appointment.
  • Returning the patient home and making sure they are settled in before leaving.
  • Carrying out routine care of ambulance equipment and daily vehicle checks.
  • Keeping accurate records of journeys.

The people you would transport may be in very poor health. An important part of your work would be to show kindness and respect to often worried patients and their relatives, who may include:

- Older people
- Individuals who are physically disabled
- People with mental health problems

In some ambulance services, you could be trained to work in a high dependency team, transporting patients with specific clinical needs on a regular basis.

During a shift you would keep in contact with support staff at the control room (by radio or telephone) who would give you clinical advice if an emergency took place.

You would usually work 37.5 hours a week, which may include some weekends, evenings and bank holidays. Part-time posts are also available.

This work is quite physically demanding and you would spend a lot of time on the road covering a particular geographical area. Occasionally you may deal with distressing situations or circumstances with seriously ill patients.

You would wear a uniform and, at times, additional protective clothing such as a bright reflective coat and boots. You may work alone or in a two-person team, in an adapted ambulance or a standard car.

ACAs can earn between £13,600 and £16,750 a year.
With experience this can rise to around £18,500.

Extra allowances (known as salary uplifts) may be paid to workers in certain geographical areas and to those expected to work unsocial hours.

Getting Started with this Career Choice

You will find most job opportunities within the NHS, although you may be able to train and work in the private ambulance sector and with the armed forces.

Education and Training

Each regional ambulance service can set its own entry criteria (and induction training programme), so it is important to check the details with the ambulance service you wish to join. In general, to work as an ambulance care assistant, you will need:

Excellent driving skills with between one and two years' driving experience.

A full manual driving licence – if you passed your test after summer 1996, you may need an extra driving qualification (some ambulance services may support you through this extra test, but this is not standard practice across the UK)

A good understanding of the Highway Code.

The ability to read maps and knowledge of the area you will cover.

Health clearance (as your work could include lifting and carrying).

You will also need basic maths and English skills. Some employers may prefer you to have around four GCSE's (A-C) including English, maths and a science, plus a current first aid certificate. Check with your local ambulance service because alternative qualifications or experience in a direct care-related role may also be accepted.

You can find links to local ambulance services on the NHS Choices website.

A Few More Exams You Might Need

As a trainee ACA, you will receive between two and four weeks' training in areas such as:

Advanced (safe) driving skills.

Moving and handling techniques.

First aid – including basic emergency accident management
(in some services) administering oxygen therapy

You will be tested throughout your training and you will take written and practical examinations.

If you reach the standard set by the service, you will be attached to an ambulance station where you will work under the guidance of a trained mentor for a probationary period. After this time, you will be allowed to work unsupervised.

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Skills and Personal Qualities Needed

An ambulance care assistant needs:

  • A warm, outgoing and caring personality.
  • Empathy, with the ability to reassure anxious or worried patients.
  • Good spoken and written communication skills.
  • Confidence, with the ability to work with a range of people across all levels.
  • A genuine desire to help and care for people.
  • Good driving skills.
  • A strong sense of responsibility and a serious attitude to work.
  • Good time keeping and organisational skills.
  • The ability to work in a team.
  • Physical and emotional stamina.
  • The ability to work under pressure.
  • An understanding of issues surrounding confidentiality.

Your Long Term Prospects

Experience as an ACA has been the traditional route to other jobs in the service, however, there is no guaranteed progression route. You will need to apply for vacancies alongside external candidates, but your experience is likely to give you an advantage when going for Emergency Care Assistant or Student Paramedic posts.

You could also move into other departments within the ambulance service, such as personnel, training, health and safety, and operations management.

Get Further Information

NHS Careers, PO Box 376, Bristol BS99 3EY
Tel: 0345 60 60 655

Health Learning and Skills Advice Line
Tel: 08000 150850
Website: https://nationalcareersservice

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