AIR crew and paramedics are going up in the world after embarking on masters degrees to boost patient care.

Six full-time aircrew and four relief aircrew paramedics have taken their first steps towards a Masters in Advanced Paramedic Practice (Critical Care). The paramedics are employed by South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) and seconded to the Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance.

With the qualification, the paramedics will be well-placed to assume any role as critical care paramedics working independently or as part of critical care teams alongside specialist doctors.

Bill Sivewright, air ambulance chief executive officer, said: “Our aspiration has always been to set up an extended paramedic training programme which will im-prove paramedic skills that can deliver real benefit to the patient.

“The unique element to the University of Hertfordshire’s MSc programme is that all education and training will take place locally by academics and visiting lecturers consisting of doctors and consultants from across the region, who will provide teaching and mentoring on land and in the air.

“This means that patients in Dorset and Somerset will benefit from the application of advanced skills very early in the process. “I’d like to thank Dr Farhad Islam, consultant in emergency medicine at the Royal Bourne-mouth Hospital, and the training department of SWASFT for their hard work in developing the syllabus.” The programme is sponsored by the Dorset and Somerset Air Am-bulance and is delivered with the University of Hert-fordshire, SWASFT and doctors and consultants from Royal Bourne-mouth, Dorset County, Musgrove Park, Salisbury District, South-ampton General and Yeovil District hospitals.

Professor Julia Williams, who is principal lecturer and research lead for paramedic science, and John Donaghy, who is principal lecturer and professional lead for paramedic science at the University of Hertfordshire, were at the airbase to meet the students and begin the introductory teaching session.

Prof Williams said: “This is a momentous occasion and a fantastic opportunity. “Having such a wealth of expertise involved with the education and training can only be a benefit. “This is the beginning of a journey for us all and one I’m delighted to be involved with.”

Dr Islam added: “This mixture of emergency physicians, intensive care consultants, anaesthetists and critical care nurses have been selected because they are fantastic at what they do in their roles in hospital and as teachers. “Throughout this, the paramedics will enhance their patient assessment skills, gain a wider knowledge of drugs, improve their diagnostic abilities, advance their management of pain and become better at clinical decision-making.”