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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.”

South Western Ambulance Service Trust Welcomes new CEO Will Warrender

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South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) is pleased to welcome incoming Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Will Warrender CBE.

Will succeeds Ken Wenman, who retires, after more than 40 years’ service in the NHS.

“We are very excited that Will is joining us, bringing a wealth of leadership experience in complex and challenging environments,” said Chairman Tony Fox.  

With over 30 years’ Royal Navy experience, Will has spent much of his time at sea, where he commanded five warships; and ashore he led national and coalition maritime operations across 2.5 million square miles of water, in the Gulf.

Will Warrender CBE,
CEO, SWASFT

In 2018 he was made a Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the military Operational Honours List and was awarded the US Legion of Merit in 2017 for his contribution to coalition maritime operations in the Gulf.

“His personal values are a great alignment with those of the Trust and we know that he will be an inclusive and compassionate leader, able to take us forward as we continue our drive to be an outstanding organisation in all that we do.’

“Finally, I would like to say thank you and to recognise the commitment and contribution Ken Wenman has made to SWASFT and to the Ambulance sector as a whole throughout his career.’

“Ken has driven innovation into the sector and has been instrumental in the development of paramedic clinical practices.’

“He was also at the forefront of successful mergers that shaped the Regional Service we have today. We wish him all the very best in his well-earned retirement,” said Mr Fox.

Outgoing-CEO Ken Wenman said: “It has been my privilege to serve the people and south west communities as SWASFT CEO.’

“We have a team of fantastic people and a firm foundation of patient-centred service on which to grow, under the next chapter of leadership.’

Ken Wenman,
CEO (Retired),
SWASFT

“Choosing the right time to retire has not been an easy decision; however SWASFT is in a good position and I am confident that the Board, led by Tony Fox and new CEO Will Warrender will seize the many opportunities that lie ahead.”

CEO Will Warrender said: “I am truly honoured to join the Trust at this highly unusual time — mid-global pandemic. Over the past few months, I have been inspired by the courage, dedication and continued commitment to patient and staff care.’

“I am reassured that my transition into the role will be supported by a caring Board, a strong Executive team and passionate people, where together we will maintain service continuity as the south west region manages and mitigates the impacts of Covid-19.

“My commitment as CEO is to compassionately lead a Trust that treats its people with respect, care, dignity and a culture that promotes transparency, inclusion, honesty, engagement, fairness, diversity and challenge.

“Together with our people and through patient and community feedback, I will be taking us on a  journey to achieve our 2025 and 2030 goals to deliver a world-class service, by making sure we are operationally fit-for-the-future and able to cope with increased demands of activity,” said Mr Warrender.

From July, Will sets out to safely meet as many of our 4500-strong workforce and 800 volunteers as possible, from across SWASFT. This will be achieved through carefully organised meetings using social distancing measures, personal protective equipment and virtual forums.

Coronavirus: Ambulance Staff Report 290 Violence & Aggression Incidents

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Hundreds of South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) staff have experienced violence and aggression while working during the coronavirus pandemic.

Ambulance crews and control room staff reported 290 incidents during the first 10 weeks of lockdown from 23 March to 31 May. This figure compared with 199 during the same time period in 2019.

The majority (84%) of the cases during lockdown were verbal abuse from patients, relatives and members of the public.

There were also 46 physical assaults against SWASFT staff, up from 34 last year.

The areas with the highest number of assaults on staff were: South and West Devon (12); Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire (9) and Wiltshire (8).

Emergency services and other partner agencies across the region are working together to highlight the #Unacceptable abuse and assaults faced by key workers during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Mark Walker,
Emergency Care Assistant,
SWASFT

They warn that such behaviour will not be tolerated, and action will be taken to prosecute offenders and protect staff.

Jenny Winslade, SWASFT Executive Director of Quality and Clinical Care, said: “Our ambulance crews and control room staff are working tirelessly on the frontline during this global health crisis.

“Sadly they are facing violence and aggression every day while trying to protect and save our patients’ lives, which is completely unacceptable.

“We support whatever action is necessary to protect our staff from harm, and ensure those responsible for any attacks are prosecuted.”

Several SWASFT staff have shared their stories of being assaulted while on duty in a bid to raise awareness of the problem, and to remind people of the consequences.

James Ryan,
Paramedic, SWASFT

Emergency Care Assistant Mark Walker and a police officer were spat at by a patient he was trying to treat in Dawlish, South Devon on Monday 25 May.

The offender was sentenced to 22 weeks in prison for assaulting two emergency workers and being drunk and disorderly in a public place.

Mark said: “The incident was pretty unpleasant. But for the person to be arrested, charged and sent to prison barely within 24 hours was a good outcome.”

Weymouth-based Paramedic James Ryan was attacked by a patient in the back of an ambulance while transporting them to hospital.

James said: “It was a horrible experience. The man knocked my glasses off, pinned me down and punched me. This type of violent behaviour is unacceptable.”

Keziah Pietersen has experienced physical and verbal abuse while working as a paramedic, including being kicked down a flight of stairs.

She said: “I was bruised and shaken. For a long time after whenever I was called out to a similar type of job I was wary.”

SWASFT is encouraging people to support the #Unacceptable campaign by sharing supportive #Unacceptable messages on social media.

Jenny added: “Our staff demonstrate dedication and courage every day, putting their own health at risk for the sake of patients. We are so proud and thankful for them all.

“Any incident of violence and aggression can have serious consequences on them, their families and colleagues. Please respect our people as they continue working during this difficult time.”

SWASFT is also reminding people to follow the national healthcare guidelines to wash their hands regularly, keep two metres apart in public, and get tested if they develop coronavirus symptoms.

Ambulance Volunteer Mike Retires After 66 Years

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An award-winning South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) volunteer community responder is taking a well-earned retirement after helping people in need for almost seven decades. 

Mike Kemp, from Liskeard in Cornwall, began his volunteering as a cadet with St John Ambulance in 1954. He was a long-serving officer with the organisation before finishing in 2006. 

Mike Kemp (right) with his son, Richard (left)

Mike has been a SWASFT Community First Responder (CFR) since 2002, treating thousands of patients in and around Liskeard, Looe and Par — and saving many lives. 

His legacy will continue through his son Richard who is a SWASFT Paramedic, and the new volunteers Mike has trained. 

CFR Mike Kemp with an AED

Mike said: “I have thoroughly enjoyed being a volunteer responder. No two days of responding are the same.’

“But it’s a privilege to be part of such a wonderful team, and know you are making a difference to people. 

“Once I was called onto a train to treat an unconscious diabetic patient who attacked the guard when he regained consciousness.’

Another time, when I was called to a care home, I was told that the elderly resident I was treating was just asleep and the real patient was on the other side of the room!”

One of Mike’s proudest achievements was becoming the first person to defibrillate a patient in 1988. 

Julia Cleeland-Smith, SWASFT Community Responder Officer for Cornwall, said: “I have been amazed at the dedication and commitment that Mike has given to support patients, community responders and enhanced first aid to the public.” 

Mike Kemp with Volunteer of the Year award at the Unsung Hero Awards (2018)

His volunteering with SWASFT was recognised in 2018 when he was given the Volunteer of the Year accolade at the Unsung Hero Awards. 

CFRs are trained volunteers who provide crucial treatment in the vital first few minutes of life-threatening emergencies while an ambulance is on the way. 

During Volunteers’ Week, SWAST has been celebrating the invaluable work of its 800 volunteers who respond to around 40,000 patients a year across the South West.