Pledge to train 1,000 new paramedics in Scotland
One thousand new paramedics will be trained to work in the ambulance service over the next five years, the Scottish government has announced.
Ministers hope the new paramedics will work with "greater autonomy" in the community and prevent "unnecessary" admissions to hospital.
Training begins this year for 200 new paramedics who will be recruited from existing ambulance staff.
The Scottish government said it was spending £5m on the training this year.
Ambulance technicians who are recruited into the paramedic training will have their posts backfilled.
Public Health Minister Aileen Campbell said: "The Scottish Ambulance Service provides support to communities the length and breadth of the country - not just responding to emergencies but also helping to facilitate planned and unscheduled care.
"That is why we are committing, over the next five years, to train 1,000 new paramedics equipped with the skills and abilities to support people in their local communities."
The Scottish Ambulance Service (SAS) launched a new vocational qualification course in April, which the service said made the course more accessible. All the training is carried out at Glasgow Caledonian University.
Pauline Howie, chief executive of the SAS, said: "This year we are recruiting and training over 200 new paramedics in the first phase of a five-year plan for continued investment in frontline resources.
"Our 'Towards 2020' strategy aims to provide the most appropriate care to every patient, whether at home or in the hospital and in order to achieve this we will continue to enhance the clinical skills of our staff and introduce new ways of working to best meet the needs of patients in all of our communities."