Mifal HaPayis and Magen David Adom Initiative to Place AEDs in Public Areas

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Mifal HaPayis is currently launching a joint project with MDA. Joint teams have already begun this week to place the devices in the Lottery booths across the country.

The project aims to provide an electric shock to the heart in cases of out of hospital cardiac arrest as quickly as possible and increase the number of lives saved in such instances.

When a citizen identifies a case of cardiac arrest in a public setting, they will be able to call the 101 Emergency Call Center as usual.

From there they will receive instructions enabling them to identify the closest defibrillator in the area (located in dedicated Mifal HaPayis booths),

Further instructions will help them to assess the patient and to provide life saving treatment until the arrival of emergency teams.

The chairperson of Mifal HaPayis, CPA Avigdor Yitzhaki said: “The purpose of the venture is to save human lives.’

“Deploying the AED devices in the Mifal HaPayis sales booths will enable, in some cases, immediate primary care in the urban area and, in some cases, even save the lives of the most common cause of death in Israel and around the world — cardiac arrest.’

“Mifal HaPayis understands the importance of the project, and invests many resources for the community and Israeli society and there is no greater social purpose than saving human lives.’

“I congratulate the Mifal HaPayis Board who understood the importance of the project, approved it and immediately joined the mission.”

MDA Director General Eli Bin added: “Collaboration with the Mifal HaPayis through the placement of CPR devices in public places is an example of creative collaboration for the sake of saving lives.’

“This is certainly an important and clear step that will save lives and increase the chances of survival of those suffering from cardiac arrest near, and perhaps even without irreversible brain damage.’

“I thank the chairman of Mifal HaPayis, CPA Avigdor Yitzhaki, for his first-line stance, alongside MDA, with concern for public health.”

Super Woman Asmahan Abu Yeheya Recounts 16 years of EMS Volunteering for MDA

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Asmahan Abu-Yeheya (42) from Gan Yavne has volunteered at Magen David Adom for 16 years.

Over the years, Asmahan had six children of her own, but between one maternity leave and another, she continued to volunteer at MDA as an EMT and ambulance driver.

Asmahan is a certified preschool teacher, and at the same time also works as a medical secretary at an orthopedic clinic, and as a volunteer operations officer for the Gan Yavne Rescue Unit.

All of this, Asmahan, does as a single mother to her six children, with the youngest being 10 years old. 

“I get support from the kids,” Asmahan shared, “If I’m in a bad mood, they tell me to go to a MDA shift because they know it will do me good.’

“Doing and giving give me a lot of satisfaction, and I feel at any given moment that I am part of the warm and supportive MDA family.’

Asmahan says that she sees each patient as a person, and that she never works on “automatic: “When I treat an older woman, I treat her like she is my grandmother.

Every time I think about the person in the ambulance when he is in pain and scared, and sometimes I am the only person they have, my job is first and foremost to give him the best medical care, but I believe it is very important that I be both human and caring. “

In recent months, Asmahan has taken an active part in MDA activity at the forefront of the fight against the Corona virus.

She has undergone training to obtain samples from suspected corona patients, and has obtained samples in the homes of patients in the Gan Yavne and Ashdod area, in the “Drive and Test” complex in Ashdod and in nursing homes in the area.

“I took a lot of samples, but it was important not to be indifferent to any of the patients,” Asmahan said. “I remember going to sample a tourist who was in isolation at a hotel in Ashdod, and I was told he had a birthday.’

“I sang a happy birthday to him and he was very excited. When I arrived dressed in protective suit for homes that had children, I told them that I was not a monster, and tried to do everything I could to calm them.’

“The activity around the Corona crisis was vast and sometimes not easy, but I knew I was part of something big, and volunteer at an organization that you need adapt to the situation in the country, with the help of people like me and other volunteers. “

“I happened to arrive as a team member for a patient or injured person, and they asked me where the person in charge is,” Asmahan said, “but I’m quick to make it clear that I’m in charge.’

“I’m sure of what I’m doing, and as soon as the people around me realize I’m coming to help, the attitude always changes. They thank me and appreciate what I did.”

Treating People Fairly: Welsh Ambulance Service’s Strategic Equality Plan 2020-2024

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The Welsh Ambulance Service has published an ambitious new plan to improve equality among its workforce and communities.

The Trust’s Strategic Equality Plan 2020-2024 sets out its commitment to work with staff and volunteers to help them recognise and celebrate diversity.

The plan is available to read via a link at the end of this article.

It also outlines how the organisation will ensure the people who use ambulance services, including those with protected characteristics, have equal access.

Claire Vaughan, the Trust’s Director of Workforce and Organisational Development, said: “We want to lead the way as an exemplar employer for diversity, equality, inclusion and fairness. 

“This strategy, building on progress and momentum from the previous strategy, sets out how we intend to do this over the next four years to cultivate an inclusive workforce where our people are enabled to realise their full potential, to flourish and make a positive contribution in the delivery of care.’

“We have called it Treating People Fairly to reflect our aim; to treat everyone fairly regardless of who they are, their background or circumstances.’

“We know we have more to do to enable a culture that is fully inclusive, supportive and accepting and we’re having conversations about how we can expedite this work in light of recent events.”

Joga Singh, Non-Executive Director with the lead for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, added: “The celebration of diversity is so important for an organisation’s ability to recruit and retain the best people for the job and also improves productivity, which ultimately, delivers a better experience for the patient.’

“We look forward to working with our staff, citizens and stakeholders across health and social care, the public sector and beyond to achieve the ambitions set out in this strategy.”

The launch of the new strategy coincided with a statement that Chief Executive Jason Killens made to the workforce on the Black Lives Matter movement following the death of George Floyd in Minnesota, USA, in May.

In a statement to colleagues, Jason said: “There is absolutely no place for racism in the Welsh Ambulance Service.

“This is not about compliance or about feeling we have a moral and ethical obligation to do something to tackle injustice.’

“This is about it being the right thing to do for our people and our communities. ‘

“It’s about standing up and calling out discrimination and inequality whenever and wherever it manifests.’

“It’s about being a fair and decent human being.”

Jason, who is also Diversity Lead for the Association of Ambulance Chief Executives, added: “This is not a problem that can be solved by senior management alone. ‘

“This is a challenge that requires every single one of us to stand up and be counted; to look closely at our own thoughts, words and deeds, and the actions of others around us.’

“We must challenge unacceptable behaviours, whether deliberately malicious or just plain ill-informed, and change our organisation for the better.’

“To do this we need to start by having open, honest and inevitably difficult conversations right across the organisation. ‘

“From crew rooms to board rooms, we need to listen, learn and redouble our efforts to change unacceptable behaviours if we want to achieve genuine equality in the workplace.”

Click here to read the Trust’s Strategic Equality Plan, Treating People Fairly.

Welsh Ambulance Service Appoints its First Chaplain

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The Welsh Ambulance Service has appointed its first chaplain.

Reverend Mike Shephard, from Carmarthenshire, was appointed to provide a ‘listening ear’ for the 3,000-strong workforce and provide pastoral care to colleagues and their families.

The 73-year-old former probation officer joined the service in January, and quickly and inadvertently became a crucial source of support for staff through the Covid-19 pandemic.

The father-of-two said: “I was a little apprehensive coming into the service because I wasn’t sure what sort of reception I’d have, but everyone has been so positive.’

Rev. Mike Shephard

“The truth is I’m not your typical minister and have gone through periods in my own career of intense doubt, to the point where I left the ministry for some years because I felt I needed to find myself.’

“My role at the ambulance service is about being spiritual but not religious, and providing that listening ear to anyone who needs me, in whatever way that might be.’

“Drawing on this period in my life means I can better empathise and relate to other people who are also at a low ebb.

“I’ve got so much respect for the NHS having been through bowel cancer and everything that brings; this is my way of paying something back.”

Revd Shephard, originally from Tredegar, Monmouthshire, left school at 15 to train to be a miner and spent a year in the pit at Oakdale Colliery.

It was at this time he joined a local church, and inspired by the life and example of his then minister, decided to embark on the same path.

At 17, he went to study Theology at the North Wales Baptist College in Bangor and by the tender age of 21, had become the UK’s youngest ordained minister.

Revd Shephard held pastorates in North Devon, West Glamorgan, Radnorshire, Gwent and Carmarthenshire while holding down a career as a probation officer and later, a family court adviser.

He said: “The skills I acquired as a social worker are very much transferrable into my role as a minister, and now chaplain.’

“You’re dealing with people who have been through the most traumatic experiences, and are supporting the extended ambulance service family during times of injury, illness and bereavement.’

“I consider myself an outlet for the thoughts and emotions of staff and a crutch through their darkest times; it’s actually very humbling.’

Rev. Mike Shephard

“In this role, you have to be kind, caring and compassionate, and that’s definitely the hallmark of the Welsh Ambulance Service.”

Wendy Herbert, the Trust’s Assistant Director of Quality and Nursing, who helped recruit Revd Shephard into the role, said: “We had been exploring the idea of a chaplain for many years having seen the benefits it’s had for our police and fire service colleagues, but only recently has the idea come to fruition.

“Ambulance work has become increasingly complex and demanding, and the appointment of a chaplain was designed to strengthen the support offer for our staff.

“Revd Shephard joined us in the New Year and then the Covid-19 pandemic ensued, and he quickly became a fundamental source of support for staff, who really look forward to his weekly columns on the Intranet.’

“We’re delighted he’s joined our ambulance service family and look forward to a long and fruitful partnership.”

Revd Shephard, along with others, was instrumental in establishing a drop-in centre at Carmarthen’s English Baptist Church which, 32 years on, continues to host Christmas Day lunch for more than 130 people who otherwise would be on their own during the festive period. 

“I believe that this is what churches are really all about,” he added.

In his spare time, he enjoys gardening and walking holidays which have taken him to various parts of the world, including to the Maltese Islands, Canary Islands and Spain.

He and wife Gwendda have a son, 51, a daughter, 49, and six grandchildren.

London Ambulance Service Launches New Public & Patients Council to Help Shape Services

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A new council formed by London Ambulance Service, bringing together patients, carers, volunteers and members of the public to help shape future services, has held its first meeting this week.

The Public and Patients Council includes a wide range of representatives from patient and carer groups, different London communities and the voluntary sector.

Meeting quarterly, it will examine and advise on broad areas of LAS’s work, from individual patient care, treatment and research through to the way LAS delivers and designs its services as well as strategy and forward planning.

The newly-launched council, which reports to the Trust Board, currently has 12 members and two independent co-chairs.

Dame Christine Beasley DBE, who was previously the Chief Nurse for England, has been appointed as the council’s interim chair.

Members of the council met ‘virtually’ for the first time on Tuesday 16 June and heard updates on how the Service has been meeting the challenges of COVID-19, as well as its progress in introducing a new electronic system to track and monitor the care we provide to patients.

Both of these discussions involved seeking feedback and views from council representatives on how they feel the Service has responded to the COVID-19 pandemic and how they think the Service can best inform and engage patients around the introduction of the new electronic patient care record.

Dame Christine Beasely DME,
Former Chief Nursing Office
and Interim Chair for LAS Public & Patients Council

Dame Christine Beasley, interim chair of the council, said: “I’m delighted to be part of this new council, which will bring together views, expertise and experiences from many corners of LAS’s patient community, as well as carers, the general public and the voluntary sector.’

“It is crucial that all public health organisations keep talking with, and listening to, their service users to ensure they are in tune with what patients and the public feel it is important for them to focus on, both now and in the future.”

Antony Tiernan, Director of Communications and Engagement at London Ambulance Service, who is the executive lead for the new council, added: “Our patients and the people of London are at the centre of everything we do, and it’s vital that they have a voice in the way we design, develop and deliver our services.’

“The way we deliver care is changing, and we have formed the new Public and Patients Council to help us engage with different patient groups, carers, communities and the voluntary sector as we transform our services.’

“Their expertise and insight will be invaluable as we shape our plans for the future, as well as influencing the day-to-day running of the Service.”

The council includes representatives from Healthwatch Enfield, Terence Higgins Trust, the Samaritans, Carers Trust, Healthwatch Merton and St John Ambulance. It currently has 12 members, but will expand to 20.

People who are interested in joining should email: communications@lond-amb.nhs.uk.

Armed Forces Week: Welsh Ambulance Give Thanks for Service

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The Welsh Ambulance Service is celebrating its service men and women past and present for Armed Forces Week (22-27 June).

Dozens of veterans work across the organisation having served in the Armed Forces, and are supported by a growing number of reservists.

Jason Killens,
CEO,
Welsh Ambulance Service NHS Trust

The Trust has also enlisted the support of the military through the Covid-19 pandemic, including members of 1st Battalion The Rifles and 3rd Battalion The Royal Welsh.

Jason Killens, Chief Executive of the Welsh Ambulance Service, said: “We have a long-standing relationship with the military and were very fortunate to have secured their support through the pandemic.

“There are a lot of similarities between the Armed Forces and emergency services, not to mention the transferrable skills, so it’s no surprise that members of that community will gravitate towards a career in the ambulance service

“We’re privileged and grateful for the veterans who work across the service, and for our growing cohort of reservists too.”

Estelle Hitchon, the Trust’s Director of Partnerships and Engagement and the Lead for Veterans, added: “Armed Forces Week is a wonderful way to recognise the contribution of our veterans, and the unique set of skills and experience they bring to the role.

“Our work with the military through the Covid-19 pandemic has strengthened our existing relationships with the Armed Forces community and opened up new opportunities for collaboration in future. Thank you for your service.”

Brigadier Andrew Dawes CBE has been military commander for Wales during the Covid-19 response.

He said: “The Armed Forces in Wales are very proud to be supporting the Welsh Ambulance Service in the collective fight against Covid-19.’

Brigadier Andrew Dawes CBE

“It has proved a very rewarding experience for the 60 soldiers involved in crewing their ambulances and a further 60 who decontaminate and clean them.’

“The soldiers have learnt a huge amount from supporting the paramedics on nearly 5,000 callouts, which has included assisting in the delivery of several babies.’

“We have built an excellent working relationship with NHS Wales and have been truly humbled by their selfless commitment and dedication during such a difficult time.’

“To have played a small part in this has been a real privilege.’

“As Armed Forces Day approaches, we are rightly reminded of the sacrifices made by all those who choose to serve their nation.”

Claire Vaughan, Director of Workforce and Organisational Development,
Welsh Ambulance Service NHS Trust

Last year, the Trust signed Step into Health’s Armed Forces Covenant and pledged to support members of the Armed Forces community to gain employment in the NHS.

It also recruited Veterans Champions from across the Trust to support new starters to make the transition into civilian life and provide one-to-one support and mentorship.

Claire Vaughan, Director of Workforce and Organisational Development, said: “Our work with the Armed Forces community has shown us time and again the direct correlation between the values held by those in the military and our own Trust behaviours.’

“We felt that recruiting Veterans Champions was a great opportunity to help those from the Armed Forces integrate themselves into a new work environment, and give them additional support as they adjust into a new way of life.”

Kevin Davies is the Trust’s Vice Chair and a Non-Executive Director, and has a near 40-year career in army nursing having joined the Territorial Army in 1983.

In May, he was appointed Colonel Commandant Queen Alexandra’s Royal Army Nursing Corps (QARANC).

Kevin said: “I want to take the opportunity to recognise the contribution of all of our service personnel, whether veteran or reservist, and also pay tribute to soldiers from 1 RIFLES and 3 R WELSH who have integrated into the ambulance family so well during the pandemic.

“Your response to the challenge, your resilience throughout and your commitment to the people of Wales has been exemplary. Thank you for all that you do.”

Members of the public see tributes that were paid to the to the Armed Forces community during Armed Forces Week by using the hashtag #SaluteOurForces to see photos and videos which have been submitted.

Prestigious Fellowship for North East Paramedic

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A North East Ambulance Service paramedic has been awarded a rare post-doctoral fellowship at Newcastle University to continue his research into improving outcomes for stroke patients.

Paramedic research fellow, Dr Graham McClelland, beat tough competition from across the country to be awarded funding by The Stroke Association to continue his research into pre-hospital stroke treatment.

Graham is one of the first paramedics in the country to be awarded a post-doctoral fellowship and is the very first to be awarded one by The Stroke Association.

Graham joined NEAS as an advanced technician in 2003 and qualified as a paramedic in 2007 before joining the Trust’s research and development team in 2011.

Dr Graham McClelland

With a particular interest in stroke, he has already built a strong connection with The Stroke Association, becoming the first paramedic to be awarded a postgraduate fellowship by the charity in 2015, allowing him to undertake a PhD at Newcastle University.

The father-of-two, whose wife Fiona is also a trained paramedic, working within the Trust’s clinical call audit team, will now spend the next three years based at the Stroke Research Group at Newcastle University, conducting research with patients and clinicians across the region.

The Stroke Research Group studies stroke care from the pre-hospital setting through to long term rehabilitation and is a leading voice in pre-hospital stroke research.

Stroke strikes every five minutes in the UK. It can happen to anyone, of any age, at any time.

Graham’s research aims to better understand pre-hospital stroke treatment, and to ascertain whether any changes to the current process could improve patient outcomes in future.

“I was gobsmacked to get the letter saying I had this fellowship, it’s an incredibly rare opportunity to pursue an area of work that I’m really interested in that I think might make a difference,” said Graham.

“Paramedics are usually the first healthcare contact for stroke patients and, as stroke is a time critical condition, minutes matter.’

“I will be looking into how the time paramedics spend with stroke patients can be most effectively used by studying local paramedic practice but also by looking at the services reporting the best performance across the world.’

“I am also looking at whether we can improve the communication between paramedics and stroke specialists using video software.’

“Paramedics already warn hospitals that they are arriving with a possible stroke patient, but additional video calling may improve the passage of information between paramedics and stroke specialists and allow faster or more precise treatment.’

“However, it is not yet routine to use video calling in this way, and there may be reasons why it may not be feasible in an emergency.’

“The overall aim is to improve acute stroke care. In all likelihood, we’re talking about incremental improvements — we’re working in a first world country with high performing stroke services — but every second counts when it comes to stroke.’

“This is a culmination of years of work, with each piece of research being another stepping stone if you like to where I am now.’

“I’m very privileged and lucky to be in this position. I feel I have one of the best jobs in the service, and I’ve got fantastic backing both at home and at work for what I’m doing which makes all the difference.”

Dr Rubina Ahmed, Research Director at The Stroke Association, said: “We’re thrilled to be funding Graham for this postdoctoral fellowship.’

“Graham’s research could help to get suspected stroke patients to hospital more quickly so that they can receive the life-changing treatment they need, to give them the best chance of rebuilding their lives.

“At The Stroke Association we’re committed to supporting researchers to develop and progress their careers and are especially keen to support allied health professionals.’

“Graham is the first research paramedic we’ve funded and we’re looking forward to working with him over the next three years as he develops his career.’

“We are very thankful to all donors and supporters as without them we could not fund ground-breaking projects like Graham’s.”

Professor Chris Price at Newcastle University Stroke Research Group said: “We are delighted that Graham will be returning to the Stroke Research Group with support from the Stroke Association to continue his important work.’

“Every five minutes someone in the UK has a stroke. Our project’s aim to improve people’s lives by faster recognition and treatment during the crucial early hours.”     

Graham is part of the research and development team at NEAS, supporting the development of high-quality research within the Trust and ensuring it is conducted and managed to a high scientific and ethical standard.’

“Ultimately the team aims to improve knowledge and understanding in order to make a difference to the people we provide care to.’

Between them, the paramedics working within the team have won several prizes for their research and, as a result, NEAS is considered one of the best services in the UK for pre-hospital research.

Daniel Haworth, consultant paramedic at NEAS, said: “Multidisciplinary, collaborative research is essential if we are going to continue to improve the care we provide at NEAS. By securing this fellowship, Graham is building on his earlier work and further developing robust, inter-professional research that ensures that clinical practice is evidence based.”

For more information about stroke, including the signs to look for and what to do, visit https://www.stroke.org.uk/

NHS Direct Wales Celebrates 20th Birthday

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The one-stop shop for health information and advice in Wales is celebrating its 20th birthday.

NHS Direct Wales, which is hosted by the Welsh Ambulance Service, is available to call 24 hours a day, every day for people who are feeling ill and are unsure what to do.

It manages an average 46,000 calls per month, while its website allows the public to check their symptoms online and search for their nearest dentist, minor injuries unit, pharmacy, GP, sexual health clinic and other services.

NHS Direct Wales is the backbone of the new NHS 111 Wales service, which is live in four of the seven Welsh health board areas and will, over time, be replaced by 111 entirely.

Iwan Griffiths, Clinical Operations Manager for NHS Direct Wales/NHS 111 Wales, said: “What began as a small team of 50 staff in a Swansea call centre has grown to a 300-strong team of call handlers and clinicians working right across Wales.

“Not only is it a source of health advice and information for the public, but it also helps to triage low acuity patients which come in via 999.

“Of these, around 65% are signposted to a more appropriate health service by our nurse advisors, preserving our ambulances for those who need them most.

“At the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, calls from the public to NHS Direct Wales/NHS 111 Wales quadrupled to roughly 160,000 calls per month.”

NHS Direct Wales launched in June 2000 in Swansea and was designed to be a single point of access for health information and advice for the people of Wales.

A second call centre opened in Bangor later that year, which still exists at Ysbyty Gwynedd, supported by a third call centre in Cwmbran. 

A further two sites have since opened to support the operation; one in St Asaph and one at Withybush Hospital in Haverfordwest.

In 2001, NHS Direct Wales joined forces with England’s NHS Direct service to run a helpline set up in response to the Alder Hey organ scandal.

In 2016, a new 111 service launched in the Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board area and has since been extended into Hywel Dda, Powys and Aneurin Bevan University Health Board areas.

Rollout in the other three health board areas – Betsi Cadwaladr, Cwm Taf and Cardiff and Vale — will follow, and signal the replacement of NHS Direct Wales entirely.

Iwan said: “NHS Direct Wales has been a trusted source of health information for many years and recently, we’ve seen it start to evolve from the brand we know and love into NHS 111 Wales, the number for which will be free from all telephones, whether landline or mobile.’

“Twenty years has absolutely flown by, but we’re thrilled to have been part of ambulance service history and to have blazed the trail for NHS 111 Wales.”

Jason Killens, Chief Executive of the Welsh Ambulance Service, added: “NHS Direct Wales is a critical cog in the ambulance service wheel and we simply couldn’t operate without it.’

“NHS Direct Wales/NHS 111 Wales has arguably been the best tool in our locker when it comes to Covid-19, in particular the Covid-19 symptom checker, which had more than a million visits in its first month.’

“Thank you and congratulations to our amazing call handlers and clinicians on 20 years of making a difference to people in Wales.”

South Western Ambulance Service Gives Thanks on 72nd Birthday

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South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) is saying a huge Thank You to all its people, its colleagues across the NHS, and to everyone who has supported the NHS in this challenging year — as the NHS celebrates its 72nd birthday. 

More than seven decades after the NHS was founded on 5 July 1948, the Trust is expressing gratitude to everyone whose dedication, help and support has enabled it to meet the challenge of the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.  

SWASFT is particularly thankful for its own 4,700 strong team of frontline, operational support and corporate services staff, as well as many others in the NHS who have all helped in the response to patients.

It is also hugely grateful to the thousands of former doctors, nurses and other health service staff who came out of retirement to battle coronavirus, the fellow key workers — from bus drivers and refuse collectors to social care staff and teachers — who have kept the country running and, of course, all those who stopped the spread of the virus by following the expert advice and staying home to save lives.

SWASFT has been supported by fire and rescue service colleagues who have worked alongside frontline teams, driving ambulances and providing much-needed assistance to patients.

We are also hugely grateful and proud of the Trust’s army of volunteer Community First Responders (CFRs) have also had a huge impact in supporting their local communities by attending patients before an ambulance reaches them.

This year has been the most challenging in NHS history with staff working around the clock to tackle coronavirus. Everyone has had a part to play and, in the most difficult days, NHS staff were sustained by the support of the communities they serve.

Individuals and businesses have generously delivered gifts to ambulance stations, and the members of the public have tirelessly shown their appreciation week after week.

Will Warrender CBE, the newly appointed Chief Executive of SWASFT, said: “On the 72nd birthday of the NHS I would like to say a huge thank you to all my colleagues at South Western Ambulance Service, our volunteers, our community, and everyone who has supported us this year.’

“I am proud of what my SWASFT colleagues have achieved in providing emergency and urgent care to so many patients in communities across the South West, whether it be clinical staff on the frontline, in ambulances, or those in the many support and corporate functions whose tireless efforts all keep the organisation running.’

“I am also particularly grateful to our healthcare colleagues in our region’s hospitals, at GP surgeries and pharmacies who have treated countless patients and helped so many others this year.”

London Ambulance Service Thanks Children for “Sharing” Their Mums and Dads

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The children of medics and call handlers at London Ambulance Service have been sent heartfelt letters from their parents’ bosses.

The letters have been sent to more than 1000 children thanking them for “sharing” their mum or dad with the ambulance service so they can care for patients during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sarah Ablewhite’s son, Jack

Paramedic Sarah Ablewhite made the difficult decision to live apart from her 14-year-old son in March.

She said: “My son Jack takes a lot of medication, also his dad has some respiratory issues, so I wanted to protect them. But it has been the hardest thing.’

“We Facetime a lot but it gets very emotional. We both go through all the emotions — he has been scared about me working but also frustrated and angry he can’t see me.’

“Getting the letter just made him so proud and lifted his spirits.”

Ambulance crew Mark Reeve has been living in a hotel since the outbreak of the pandemic to protect his asthmatic six-year-old son.

Mark Reeve’s son, Christopher

Mark said: “It has been very hard to be away from him, particularly missing his sixth birthday, but I felt it was more than just my job to be on the frontline; it was something I had to do.’

“London Ambulance Service is also my family. I don’t know when I will be reunited with Christopher but it meant so much for him to get a letter.’

“He’s no longer worried, he thinks of me as a superhero, saving lives.” 

At the peak of the pandemic, London Ambulance Service was getting as many as 11,000 calls a day.

Charlene Letts, emergency ambulance crew and a mum-of-three, suggested the Service send a message out to families at a time when staff were working long and gruelling shifts.

Charlene Letts’ children, Kiera-Louize (11), Harrison (7), and Sophia (2)

Managers thought it was a great idea and immediately starting sending out the letters — which are personalised for every child.

Charlene said: “The letters are reassuring and made our children feel so special, it said they were heroes and thanked them personally for everything they are doing to help mummy and daddy.’

“This made them feel a part of the Service and that they were helping.’

“It has given me great pleasure that something positive can come out of what has been and continues to be challenging times.”

Shurelle with his son

Emergency medical technician Shurelle Elvique said: “Listening to my eldest son read out the letter gave me a sense of pride, I had tears in my eyes.’

“My youngest said it was ok, he did not mind sharing me so I could help look after sick people.’

“The letter made me feel appreciated in such a tough time, like I was really making a difference.”

Lorraine Quinlan, who works in one of the Service’s 999 control rooms, said: “My son has been so scared and has cried every time I’ve left home to go on shift.’

“Getting this letter has been a massive boost to him — and my daughter.”

Letters have also been sent to grandchildren, cousins, nieces and nephews — any child who has struggled while a loved one has been working. 

Chief Operating Officer of London Ambulance Service Khadir Meer said: “The sacrifice that our people and their children have made during the COVID-19 pandemic has been nothing short of extraordinary.’

“I am incredibly indebted to our team for everything they have done and continue to do to care for Londoners.’

“With my own son having received a letter from the Chief Executive, I know only too well the power of this kind of letter written personally to your child in helping them understand the role their parents have played in tackling this crisis.”