Strategic Head of Resilience Recognised in Queen’s Birthday Honours

Simon Swallow, strategic head of emergency preparedness, resilience and response at the North East Ambulance Service, has been awarded the Queen’s Ambulance Medal in the 2021 Birthday Honour’s list. He is the third recipient of the prestigious honour in the North East region.

The award is presented to acknowledge distinguished service in the ambulance service and is awarded in recognition of the enormous contribution and influence Simon has made in his 35-year career in the ambulance service and NHS.

Chief Executive Helen Ray said: “This is a well-deserved honour and on behalf of the Trust I am delighted that Simon has been recognised for his contribution to the ambulance service and wider NHS.’

“His commitment was evident early in his career when he volunteered to deliver presentations to numerous community organisations to raise awareness and educate the public on the aims of the ambulance service.’

Helen Ray,
Chief Executive,

“He still volunteers in NEAS today as a family liaison officer during serious incident investigations. Many have commented to me how Simon often puts his feelings to one side to help and support the patients and their families.”

Simon Swallow, aged 51, is married and lives in Whitley Bay. He has three children. He said: “I am honoured, humbled and proud to have receive this honour. It’s been such a journey working these 35 years in the service and it still feels very special to work here. I enjoy it as much now as I did on my first day.”

Reflecting on his investiture, he added: “I have been involved since 1995 in looking after the Royal family. I’ve always been in the background so it will feel very different to finally meet them when I receive this honour.”

Simon was a cadet in the ambulance service aged 16 and qualified as a paramedic seven years’ later in 1993. He quickly received the appreciation from the Department of Health for his work on the reception, treatment and transportation of the four Bosnian casualties flown in to Newcastle by the RAF.

This later became the Reception Arrangements for Military Patients (RAMP) programme, transporting casualties from abroad to major trauma centres.

Simon has gone on to be involved in numerous multi-agency operations, some high profile, where his experience and skills have made a difference in both caring for patients and protecting the public, including:

  • Operation Hourglass: A pilot scheme which later became the national “booze bus” initiative
  • Operation Ginger: Simon set up the first of its kind partnership with police in North East
  • Raoul Moat manhunt: Ambulance commander during a high-profile week long incident
  • 2012 Olympics: In the North East and as strategic commander supporting London Ambulance Service in the National Olympic Coordination Centre
  • Great North Run: 26 years as a commander to the largest mass-participation event in the UK
  • World Transplant Games: Lead planner for medical cover at all the venues
Simon Swallow,
Strategic Head of Emergency Preparedness, Resilience & Response,

In the early 2000s, Simon spent time teaching in Kuwait on behalf of NEAS and remains an advocate for raising awareness and supporting training for Chemical Biological Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) contingencies. He was later involved in writing the CBRN manual and training for the CBRN clinical decontamination programme.

Simon went on to lead the early implementation of the Special Operations Response Team and trained 140 NEAS staff in early 2002. Five years later, he was again working alongside the Department of Health and national teams to trial “hot zone” working which later became the Hazardous Area Response Team.

All aspects of police and royalty protection planning and delivery has been led by Simon, including visits of prime ministers, presidents, popes, and monarchs.

Recently, Simon has led on the COVID-19 swabbing, anti-body testing and vaccine programme, working tirelessly to organise clinics and act as a point of contact for all staff and liaising with partners to secure vaccine appointments.

London Ambulance Service Announces New Appointments to Senior Leadership Team

London Ambulance Service have announced the appointment of two non-executive directors and an associate non-executive director to support its trust board building a world-class ambulance service.

Bob Alexander

During a career in finance and accounting spanning more than 30 years, Bob Alexander operated at board level across public sector organisations including the NHS, the Civil Service and Metropolitan Police.

Bob Alexander

He retired from the role of Deputy Chief Executive of NHS Improvement in 2018 but continues to perform numerous non-executive roles including Independent Chair of Sussex Health and Care Partnership; non-executive director of Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust (where he is currently Interim Chair), and non-executive director of Community Health Partnerships Ltd.

He has an MBA and is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy.

 Speaking about his appointment, he said: “As an emergency service operating in one of the greatest capital cities in the world, London Ambulance Service is a high profile healthcare organisation delivering important services to Londoners and visitors alike.’

“I want to use my experience of NHS management and finance to ensure it is best placed to successfully manage its future sustainability in the face of the NHS recovery challenge as we emerge from the Covid pandemic.”

Dr Anne Rainsberry CBE

Dr Anne Rainsberry CBE

With a professional background in HR and management, Dr Anne Rainsberry has 32 years’ experience working in the NHS at local, regional and national levels.

Before joining healthcare and life sciences consultancy Carnall Farrar as managing partner in 2017, Anne was London regional director at NHS England for four years where she led major service changes in the capital including the reconfiguration of cancer and cardiac services.

Anne’s tandem role as the national executive lead for emergency preparedness — ensuring the NHS has resilience to cope with incidents from extreme weather to terrorist attacks — also brought her into frequent contact with emergency services including London Ambulance.

Previously, Anne was chief executive of NHS NW London and Deputy Chief Executive of NHS London and through her career has held a number of managerial NHS roles in London and the south east.

Anne was awarded a CBE in 2017 for services to the NHS.

Speaking of her appointment as non-executive director, she said: “London Ambulance Service has a huge opportunity to transform healthcare in the capital over the next decade and I am excited to be part of that work.’

“I am looking forward to supporting the board as they deliver on their strategy at such a profoundly challenging time for the NHS and its staff.”

Line de Decker

Line de Decker

For 24 years, Line De Decker has worked at senior levels in large corporations leading them through transformational change programmes.

Line has been with GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) for over 13 years in HR business partner roles of increasing responsibility before last year becoming Head of the GSK Transformation Office charged with preparing the organisation for separation and creating two new companies.

Before GSK, Line worked at DuPont, UCB and PriceWaterhouseCoopers.

Speaking of her appointment as Associate Non-Executive Director, Line said: “I am delighted to be able to use my experience of cultural change and transformation to make a contribution to this wonderful city.’

“I want to help guide the board in their complex role as they lead the thousands of London Ambulance Service staff who make a difference to millions of Londoners each year.”

Heather Lawrence OBE, chair of the Trust board, said:“As we emerge from the Coronavirus pandemic, it’s vital we keep driving forward the strategic change necessary to fulfil our vision to be a world-class ambulance service.’

“I am delighted to confirm these appointments to the board. All three bring different perspectives, but each of them appreciate the importance of supporting our people as we deliver change during such challenging times.”

Dr Anne Rainsberry took up her role on 1 May. Line De Decker takes up her role in June, and Bob Alexander on 1 September.

Their appointments follow the departure of non-executive directors Fergus Cass and Jayne Mee.

Thanking them for their service, Trust Chair Heather Lawrence said: “I would like to thank Fergus and Jayne for their dedication and the advice they brought to the Board throughout this unprecedented time for London Ambulance Service.”

The London Ambulance Service Trust board is responsible for appointing non-executive directors through a process of open advertising and formal selection interview, and NHS Appointments then ratifies them.

Welsh Ambulance Service Celebrates Volunteers Week’ 2021

The Welsh Ambulance Service spent last week celebrating the work of its volunteers as part of National Volunteers’ Week.

Volunteers’ Week (01-07 June) is an annual celebration of the contribution millions of people make across the UK through volunteering.

More than 800 volunteers give up their time to support the ambulance service in Wales, including 600 Community First Responders and 200 Volunteer Car Drivers.

Jason Killens, Chief Executive of the Welsh Ambulance Service, said: “As an ambulance service, we depend hugely on the contribution of our volunteers, come rain or shine.’

“The commitment from volunteers through the COVID-19 pandemic in particular has been incredible, and we are enormously grateful to those who have stepped up to help us during these difficult times.’

“Volunteers’ Week is a perfect opportunity to highlight the work they do and to publicly thank them for their ongoing commitment.”

Volunteer Car Drivers use their own vehicles to transport people to routine hospital appointments, including renal dialysis, oncology and outpatients appointments.

In 2020/21, they made 46,745 journeys across Wales and covered more than a million miles.

Among them is former police officer Judith Sutcliffe, of Cemaes Bay, Anglesey, who was so inspired by a conversation with one patient about dogs that she decided to adopt her own.

Judith Sutcliffe

Judith, a volunteer of three years, said: “You get to meet such interesting people as a Volunteer Car Driver.’

“I took one lady from Beaumaris to Gobowen and had a really good chat about dogs.’

“When we reached our destination, she asked me why I didn’t have one if I loved them so much.’

“Later, my husband and I re-homed a beautiful Brittany Setter called Remy, and this is entirely down to a patient I met through the Volunteer Car Service.’

“I love this work and it’s a privilege to deliver such an important service.”

Pennie Walker, Volunteer Manager for the Trust’s Non-Emergency Patient Transport Service, said: “The Volunteer Car Service is an important cog in the wheel of the non-emergency service.’

“Volunteers get to know their patients, especially those they transport regularly, and it’s as rewarding an experience for them as it is for patients.”

Meanwhile, Community First Responders are volunteers who attend 999 calls in their community and administer first aid in the precious first minutes before an ambulance arrives.

They are trained by the Welsh Ambulance Service to administer first aid, including oxygen therapy and cardiopulmonary resuscitation, as well as the use of a defibrillator.

Last year, Community First Responders attended more than 9,500 emergencies, arriving at the scene of the most serious ‘Red’ calls in an average of six minutes and 44 seconds.

Jay Garden

Among them is Jay Garden, of Holyhead, Anglesey, who was inspired to join after his sister experienced a medical emergency which saw the family call 999 for help.

After two years in a volunteering role, the father-of-three has decided to pursue a career at the ambulance service and will begin his training as an Emergency Medical Technician next week.

Jay said: “In 2019, my sister went into anaphylactic shock at home.

“While I had a good level of casualty care training through my volunteering with the RNLI, nothing could prepare me to see one of my family members in crisis.

“When the paramedic walked through the door with the kit in his bag to save my sister’s life, it was a moment which changed my life.

“On the journey to hospital, I asked the paramedic question after question and that’s when I learned about becoming a Community First Responder.

“I signed up to the course and never looked back.

“It’s safe to say that volunteering has changed my life.”

Glyn Thomas, the Trust’s Alternative Responder Manager, said: “Every second counts in an emergency, and the role that first responders play in initiating that chain of survival can literally mean the difference between life and death.

“First responders don’t just provide life-saving support at events such as cardiac arrests; they’re also trained to deal with a broader range of medical emergencies, including non-injured fallers.”

The Trust is preparing to launch its first Volunteers’ Strategy, which sets out how volunteers will be better integrated into the workforce and better supported to deliver the role.

Lee Brooks, the Trust’s Director of Operations, said: “Volunteering at the Welsh Ambulance Service has come a long way in the last two decades.

“There are new and exciting plans afoot as we further embrace our volunteers as part of the #TeamWAST family.”

As well as Community First Responders and Volunteer Car Drivers, the Trust also relies on the support of St John Ambulance Cymru as well as ‘BASICS’ doctors from the British Association of Immediate Care, who provide pre-hospital care at the scene of more complex emergencies.

At this time, the Trust is unable to accept applications for the role of Community First Responder, but applications for the Voluntary Car Service are welcome.

Body Cameras Rolled Out to All North East Stations to Protect Frontline Staff

All frontline ambulance staff at North East Ambulance Service (NEAS) will have access to a body worn camera in a bid to protect them against the rise of incidents of violence and aggression.

All NEAS vehicles are fitted with CCTV cameras, but with two thirds of incidents happening away from a vehicle, the service was keen to protect staff further.

NEAS was the first ambulance service to trial body worn video cameras in 2018 with around 40 members of frontline staff.

Following this trial, the Trust was successful in a funding bid from NHS England to purchase a further 160 cameras last year and has now received funding to purchase a further 200, meaning every ambulance station in the region will now have access to a camera.

So far this year, the service has already recorded 252 violence and aggression incidents, ranging from verbal abuse to physical assault.

Alcohol remains the single largest contributory factor, followed by mental health and drug misuse.

The day or time of the week does not appear to be a factor in assaults, with recent data showing staff are as likely to be attacked on a Tuesday as they are on a Saturday.

Violence and Aggression Incidents Against Staff by Year


These incidents include:

Type of incident2019/202020/212021/22 so far
Racist behaviour/abuse/hate related incident222
Intimidating behaviour10514338
Patient lashing out587511
Physical assault11213129
Sexual abuse18154
Verbal abuse14412730

Darren Green, clinical services manager at NEAS, said: “Staff safety is one of our highest priorities; if we are unable to protect our staff, we are unable to provide a service that’s fit for purpose for the public we serve.’

“Nobody comes to work to be abused, but especially not when they are here to help people; often the people abusing them are the very people who called them for help.’

“We’ve all had an incredibly tough year but sadly abuse on our staff has continued to increase, meaning these cameras are needed more than ever.’

“As well as providing evidence to support criminal convictions, the cameras can also often de-escalate a situation, thereby preventing an assault from the taking place in the first place.’

“They also provide staff with a greater confidence when faced with a challenging or risky situation.’

“The availability of body worn cameras for our staff is something that we have championed for a long time and so we are delighted to have led the trial to help implement them nationally.’

“We will continue to work on measures to reduce assaults and liaise with police colleagues to ensure action is taken following any criminal acts against staff or the Trust.  We encourage all valuable NHS colleagues not to tolerate such behaviour.”

Gateshead based paramedic Gary McCaughey, who regularly uses the body cameras on shift, said: “It gives you a little more comfort in the fact that if anything does happen you’re able to record it, but it definitely acts as a deterrent — you can physically see the situation de-escalate when you tell the person you’re activating it.”

Hartlepool-based paramedic Tony Traynor added: “It focuses minds; I’ve warned people that I’m about to turn it on twice and each time they’ve changed their behaviour.’

“A lot of the time it can be a case of he said, she said but the cameras provide that video evidence that they can’t argue against.”

The Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Act 2018 allows courts to impose a maximum of 12 months in prison and/or unlimited fine on anyone found guilty of assaulting a police officer, firefighter, prison officer or paramedic. A bill is currently going through Parliament to double this sentence to 24 months.

NEAS successfully campaigned last year as part of the national consultation to double the maximum sentence to two years imprisonment, where it called on courts to use the full powers already available to them to ensure sentencing acts as a deterrent as well as a punishment.

Assaults — both physical and verbal — can have a lasting impact on staff, ranging from marriage breakdowns to leaving the profession altogether.

There is also a wider cost to the service in terms of repairs and time lost to staff sickness. On reviewing just 41 cases between April 2017 and October 2019, the service lost 411 days to staff sickness at a cost of £141,824 in overtime costs to cover missed shifts following an assault.

In addition, the cost of recruiting and training replacements for those staff who have left ranges between £20,000 and £30,000 per person depending on the role and clinical skills needed in the post.  

Footage obtained in the event of an assault or abuse will be admissible as evidence in a court of law.  It will only be used for the purposes of providing evidence to the police in any enquiry intended for the health, safety and protection of staff.

Pair Commended for Life-Saving Interventions at Car Crash Aftermath

A nurse and her colleague who delivered life-saving first aid in the aftermath of a serious car crash have been commended for their actions.

District nurse Joanne Curry and her co-worker Simon Clifford were on shift with the GP out-of-hours service when they came across a one-car collision in Abertillery, where four people had been injured, two of them seriously.

Using equipment from the boot of their car, Joanne administered first aid in the minutes before the arrival of the ambulance service, while Simon, her driver, managed the scene.Today, the pair were presented with certificates from the Welsh Ambulance Service’s Chief Executive Jason Killens.

Jason said: “Serious road traffic accidents can be daunting for even the most seasoned paramedics, so the way Joanne and Simon took control of the scene is testament to their expert skill and professionalism.’

This story may have had a different ending had it not been for their intervention, and we would like to thank Joanne and Simon for their support that day, which made a huge difference to both our crews and the patients.”

The pair were nearing the end of their shift with Aneurin Bevan University Health Board’s GP out-of-hours service on the evening of 01 March 2021when they spotted a car which had left the carriageway of the A467.

Joanne, a nurse of 32 years, said: “We had just left a call in Nantyglo and were heading back down the Valley to finish when I could see in the distance hazard lights from a car in the carriageway.’

“As we got near, I could see that the vehicle was in the bushes on the nearside and was severely damaged.’

“I got out to see if I could offer any assistance in my capacity as a nurse, and luckily the emergency equipment I had in the car meant I was able to provide first aid.’

“When the fire and ambulance service arrived, I briefed them then supported where I could, by fetching equipment.’

“My colleague Simon assisted me in a situation way out of his comfort zone — and mine.”

Simon, who has been a driver for 15 years, added: “It hadn’t long happened when we pulled up to help.’

“Joanne was brilliant and just took it completely in her stride; she was straight out of the car and straight over to the patients, shouting to me what I needed to retrieve from the boot.’

“It was a trying situation but I’m glad we were able to help in some way.”

In all, four ambulances, three rapid response cars and the Trust’s Hazardous Area Response Team were dispatched to the scene, where crews were also supported by a doctor from MEDSERVE Wales and the Emergency Medical Retrieval and Transfer Service.

The four occupants of the car were taken to hospital for treatment.

Judith Paget,
Chief Executive,
Aneurin Bevan University Health Board

Jason said: “This was without doubt a complex and challenging scene, but Joanne and Simon’s actions tipped the balance of survival in the right way.’

“Once again, we commend them for their quick-thinking actions, which made a huge difference that day.”

Judith Paget, Chief Executive at Aneurin Bevan University Health Board, added: “We are extremely proud of both Joanne and Simon for their courageous actions.’

“Their daily roles involve providing excellent care to their patients, but being able to adapt these skills to perform life-saving emergency treatment really is exceptional.’

“Our NHS services in Wales work as one team, and the way Joanne and Simon responded so selflessly is the epitome of this.’

“[We’re] Wishing all casualties involved in the collision a quick recovery.”

Port Talbot Supermarket Staff Commended for Quick-Thinking Actions

Supermarket workers who came to the aid of a customer in cardiac arrest have been praised for their quick-thinking actions.

Staff at Tesco in Port Talbot gave CPR to a man who had collapsed in the car park and delivered two shocks using the store’s defibrillator before the arrival of an ambulance.

Colleagues also made a makeshift helipad to allow for the safe landing of the air ambulance.

Today, the Welsh Ambulance Service’s Chief Executive Jason Killens visited the store to extend a thank you for their efforts.

Members of staff from Port Talbot with Jason Killens, Chief Executive of WAST

Jason said: “Every second counts in a cardiac arrest, and the way that colleagues worked together to begin the chain of survival gave this patient the best possible chance

“They’re a shining example of what to do in this sort of scenario, and they should be really proud of their actions.”

A rapid response car, an emergency ambulance, and an air ambulance were dispatched to the Prior Street supermarket after the 999 call in October.

Community First Responder Ashley Page supported Paramedic Richard John in the rapid response car, which arrived within six minutes of the call.

Ashley, who is also an allocator in the Trust’s Clinical Contact Centre in Carmarthen, said: “When we arrived, good quality CPR was in progress by store staff and an off-duty South Wales Police officer.’

“The store’s defibrillator had already given the patient two shocks, and staff had cleared an area for us to work on the patient and had also made a makeshift helipad.’

“Their collective efforts on that day gave the man a fighting chance, and made the ambulance crews’ job so much easier.”

Today, Chief Executive Jason Killens was joined by the High Sheriff of West Glamorgan, Joanna Jenkins, to present staff at the store with a commendation.

Joanna said: “What store staff and the off-duty South Wales Police officer achieved that day is very impressive.’

“CPR and the use of the store defibrillator, as well as the creation of a makeshift helipad, demonstrate that everything possible was done to assist the customer.’

“This commendation is richly deserved. Many congratulations.”

Store manager Mandy Walsh added: “I am incredibly proud of how our team responded to this emergency.’

“We have trained first-aiders in all our stores in case someone does become ill, but the way our whole store worked together to help this customer is a credit to the professionalism of every colleague involved.”

Cardiac Arrest Survivor Thanks “Humble Heroes” For Saving His Life

A 54-year-old man whose heart stopped beating for 21 minutes has thanked London Ambulance Service staff that helped save his life.

Nicolas De Santis, a tech entrepreneur, was working at home in his study when he started to feel slight discomfort in his chest which he brushed off as an infection or bad cold.

Elliott Clark,
LAS Call Handler

Fortunately for Nicolas his daughter, Alaia, 22, was also at home that day in December 2019, and had gone to check on him before they went out to dinner when he collapsed in front of her.

She immediately dialled 999 and followed the advice from London Ambulance Service call handler, Elliott, who began to talk Alaia through cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

She said: “When I saw my dad collapse, I knew something severe had happened to him.’

“I had never learnt CPR before, but, I knew I had to act quickly as he was not breathing.’

“The call handler kept me calm and helped talk me through what to do.”

As Alaia continued to give chest compressions to her father, medics Kirsty, Junaid, John and Vijay arrived.

Junaid, an Advanced Paramedic for London Ambulance Service, recalled that day: “21 minutes is a very long time for someone’s heart to stop beating.’

“Every second counts when a person is in cardiac arrest and good chest compressions — like those Alaia gave — helps to resupply the heart and brain with vital oxygen.’

“Alaia’s quick actions that day truly saved her father’s life.”

Left to Right: John, Vijay. Nicolas and Alaia, Junaid, and Kirsty

After the medics helped to stabilise Nicolas, they rushed him to hospital where he was put in an induced coma. He spent a month recovering in an intensive care unit. The doctors said he had suffered a cardiac arrest because of a blocked coronary artery.

Nicolas De Santis in the ICU

Nicolas, who lives in Mayfair with his wife, Melissa Odabash, and his two daughters, Alaia and Avalon, 18, says the incident has made him see the world a little differently.

“I left this life for 21 minutes. I realise how lucky I am to be alive, and life really is much more beautiful than it was before.’

“The way I see it I came back to understand how precious life really is,” he said.

Recently Nicolas visited London Ambulance Service’s HQ to meet the staff there that helped to save his life that day.

He said: “It has been so important for me to be able to thank them. Without them I’m not sure I would have survived. I call them my ‘humble heroes’, because they really are heroes and so humble.”

Since recovering Nicolas wants to raise awareness of the importance of cardiac health and learning lifesaving skills such as CPR.

He said: “I’m a 54-year-old man, fairly fit, play football every weekend and look after myself with a healthy diet. I never thought anything like this could happen to me. It is totally unpredictable.’

“And that’s the point, you never know who it could happen to or when, so that’s why it’s so important to learn these skills. As sadly, you’re much more likely to have to save someone close to you — a friend or family member.”

Not only has Nicolas thanked the ambulance service for saving his life, he says he is indebted to his daughter: “I have said to her, whatever she wants, she can have!

“I can’t thank everyone enough for giving me another chance at life and the opportunity to see my daughters grow up, get married and graduate. I am so grateful to everyone that day.”

Nicolas and Alaia

Capital Air Ambulance Receives CQC Approval And A Home Office License For Controlled Drugs

Capital Air Ambulance, a division of Pula Aviation Services Limited, has achieved two milestones during April.

It has been accredited by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) for the practice of health and social care services in England and it has been awarded a controlled drugs license by the Home Office.

The CQC accreditation acknowledges Capital as providing the same care standards as achieved by the NHS in England and covers diagnostic and screening procedures, transport services, triage and medical advice provided remotely, treatment of disease, and disorder or injury.

Granted by the independent regulator of health and social care in England, the accreditation sets Capital’s air ambulance and ground ambulance services ahead by ensuring NHS-equivalent medical care standards are delivered.

Dr Rowan Hardy,
Medical Director,
Capital Air Ambulance Ltd.

The separate Home Office license granted to Capital approves the storage and handling procedures of controlled drugs that will be used by Capital’s medical teams during air and ground ambulance operations.

Dr. Rowan Hardy, Medical Director at Capital Air Ambulance, said: “We are delighted that Capital has been able to demonstrate it meets the CQC’s fundamental standards of quality and safety and gained this approval alongside the Home Office license for controlled drugs.’

“With the approvals resulting from an examination of every aspect of our care, from medical equipment and medicines used to the qualifications and training of medical staff, this means our patients will receive the same standard of high-quality care as provided by the UK’s hospitals and other health care facilities.”

Welsh Ambulance Service And Macmillan Cancer Support Launch New Initiative To Improve Care For Terminally Ill Patients

The Welsh Ambulance Service has joined forces with Macmillan Cancer Support in Wales, launching a new initiative to improve the care delivered to terminally ill patients.

The collaboration, which launched during Dying Matters Awareness Week (10-16 May 2021), is designed to improve the training delivered to ambulance crews so they can provide the very best care for patients at the end of life.

The training helps to give staff a greater understanding of end of life care, supporting clinicians to better recognise when a patient is nearing end of their life, and improving communication and symptom management skills to prevent avoidable hospital admissions.

Ed O’Brian, Macmillan Paramedic and the Trust’s End of Life Care Lead, said: “The collaboration between Welsh Ambulance and Macmillan Cancer Support will bring huge benefits to patients and staff across Wales.

“Ambulance clinicians are often called to assist patients nearing the end of their life due to an advanced or terminal illness, so it’s vital they can do so having had the appropriate training and with the right support structure around them to deliver the best care.’

“The network of support being developed as part of this project in conjunction with Palliative Care Wales is invaluable, such as the ability for an ambulance clinician anywhere in Wales to be able to contact a palliative medicine doctor 24/7 from the patient’s home to seek their advice and guidance in order to achieve the best outcome for the patient.’

“The two-year project will also help us to identify why, where and when patients at the end of life are needing to access the ambulance service, so we can identify areas for further development across the health and care sector in Wales.”

This is the latest in a series of initiatives between the Welsh Ambulance Service and Macmillan Cancer Support designed to improve the care that palliative patients receive.

Richard Pugh, Head of Partnerships for Macmillan Cancer Support in Wales, said: “Macmillan is so very proud to be able to help fund this project through the fantastic and tireless support given by our fundraisers.’

“This first-of-its-kind partnership means we can help people, and their loved ones, to spend their final days in the way they want.’

“As people near the end of life, dignity and the knowledge that their final wishes have been met is the best comfort and gift we can give them.”

In 2019, the Welsh Ambulance Service won an NHS Wales Award in the Delivering Person-Centred Services category for its End of Life Care Rapid Transport Service, as well as the Outstanding Contribution to Transforming Health and Care Award.

The End of Life Care Rapid Transport Service, delivered by the Trust’s Non-Emergency Patient Transport Service, works with teams across Wales to provide transport for terminally ill patients to their preferred place of death.

The enhanced service ensures patients and their families have minimal delays, helping to reduce any further distress and anxiety.

The dedicated service has made nearly 2,000 compassionate journeys since its introduction in 2017.

The Trust was also the first ambulance service in the UK to introduce ‘Just in Case’ medications to its frontline emergency vehicles, allowing paramedics to better manage the symptoms that may sometimes be experienced as terminally ill patients become more poorly.

Nikki Pease, Palliative Care Consultant at Velindre University NHS Trust, added: “Where and how people die matters.’

“This all-Wales collaborative project serves to ensure first class end of life care to all.”

Join The Welsh Ambulance Service’s New People and Community Network

The Welsh Ambulance Service is inviting the public to join its brand new network.

Members of the Trust’s People and Community Network can attend meetings, take surveys and share their own experience at the hands of the ambulance service in order to shape the way services are delivered.

They can also take part in ‘Mystery Shopper’ exercises to identify where improvements could be made, whether to its Emergency Medical Service, Non-Emergency Patient Transport Service or NHS 111 Wales.

The network launches this week, and is open to patients, carers, community groups or anyone with an interest in how the Welsh Ambulance Service works.

Leanne Hawker, the Trust’s Head of Patient Experience and Community Involvement, said: “Patients are at the heart of everything we do, so it’s important we hear first-hand from people with lived experience in order to deliver meaningful improvements.’

“With the launch of this network comes an opportunity to engage with people we may not have engaged with before, and enlist as broad a spectrum of people as possible to allow us to deliver more person-centred care.’

“In turn, we hope to build a network for all people from all backgrounds, truly representative of the communities we serve.”

Leanne added: “The co-design of services with our communities is key to delivering the best ambulance service possible for people in Wales.’

“For us, this is about innovating services for the needs of people, through the inclusion of people.’

“Put simply, our message is this – be part of the change you want to see.”

To join the People and Community Network, please complete this online form.

Alternatively, you can email or call 01792 311773.

Members of the network will receive regular communications from the Welsh Ambulance Service and will be given the chance to participate in a Welcome Day.

Follow @WelshAmbPECI on Twitter for more news and updates about the People and Community Network.