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January 2021

Ambulance staff recognised in Queen’s New Year’s Honours

January 1st 2021

Wayne Darch MBE

Two members of staff at South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) have been recognised in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours list.

Wayne Darch (pictured right), SWASFT Head of Operations EPRR and Specialist Practice, has been awarded an MBE for services to the Emergency Services and the Covid-19 (coronavirus) response. 

He said: “I am completely overwhelmed to receive such an honour. This has only been made possible by having such a supportive family and a great team around me within the trust who help
me achieve the best for our communities.”

Dr Phil Cowburn (pictured below), SWASFT Acute Care Medical Director, has been honoured with an MBE for services to pre-hospital care particularly during the Covid-19 response. 

Dr Cowburn, who lives in Gloucestershire, is also a consultant in emergency medicine with Great Western Air Ambulance Charity (GWAAC) and University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trust (UHBW). 

He jointly led a new project to help relieve pressure on the region’s hospitals during the first wave of Covid-19. The initiative, which was piloted in April 2020, involved safely moving critically ill and injured patients between intensive care units. 

He also created a trauma and resuscitation advice line for SWASFT to enable colleagues to be able to speak with an appropriate clinician while responding to trauma patients. 

Phil Cowburn

He also helped colleagues to develop their careers by rolling-out training, resources and best practice.

Dr Cowburn said: “I am truly humbled by this recognition. To me this is not really a personal accolade; it is a celebration of the great teams I work with. None of the great achievements could have succeeded without the superb group of colleagues I have the pleasure of working alongside.

"The passion and enthusiasm to deliver excellent patient care is so embedded within GWAAC and SWASFT, particularly the critical care teams and Hazardous Area Response Teams. The progress in improving paramedic practice immense within this region is exemplary.

“This year has put immense pressures on the entire NHS, but the collaboration between colleagues in the air ambulances, NHS ambulance service and hospitals have maintained high quality care and developed services that will continue for the future. Working together we can achieve so much.”

‘Concerning’ rise in patient assaults on ambulance staff

20 January 2021

South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) is concerned about a continued rise in assaults against its people.

Staff experienced 50 incidents of violence and aggression from patients and other members of the public between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Day, including 16 physical assaults. That represents an 85% increase in overall incidents and double the number of assaults during the nine-day period, compared to the previous year.

On Christmas Day a crew responded to a patient holding a kitchen knife. Then his car collided with their ambulance as he tried to leave the scene. Another crew responding to an incident were threatened with a baseball bat by a motorist. A female paramedic was also assaulted while attending an incident.

Paramedic Mike Jones was appointed SWASFT’s Violence Reduction Lead in November as part of its ongoing work to protect staff.

He said: “We are disappointed by this concerning rise in violence and aggression towards our colleagues during the busy Christmas and New Year period.

These incidents included our control room colleagues being verbally abused, and our ambulance crews being threatened, kicked, pushed, punched, spat at and subjected to other inappropriate behaviour.

It is unacceptable to abuse and assault our staff, and it must stop.

We continue to work with our police colleagues to ensure all offenders are brought to justice and our people can work without being threatened or attacked.”

Paramedics Stuart Brookes and James Hubbart were verbally abused and spat at by a patient who claimed to have coronavirus (Covid-19) during an incident in Bristol in November. The offender was sentenced 20 weeks in prison.

Ambulance staff reported a total of 1,584 violence and aggression incidents during 2020, up 64% compared to 2019.

Three ambulance responders and a police officer were also assaulted by a female patient while attending an incident in Chippenham, Wiltshire on Saturday 9 January.

A woman was prosecuted on 13 January after punching a male paramedic in the stomach during an incident in Westbury, Wiltshire in May 2020.

A SWASFT spokesperson said: “Sadly our people experience violence and aggression every day while they are trying to protect and save people’s lives.

This is unacceptable, and can have serious consequences on them, their families and colleagues. It can also delay or even prevent us treating those who really need our care.

We are fully committed to supporting the health, wellbeing and safety of our people. That means we offer immediate support to anyone who experiences violence and aggression on duty. It also means we take whatever action is necessary to prevent them from harm and keep them safe.

Please respect our people, and help them to help you.”

The #Unacceptable campaign, launched in 2018, aims to highlight the abuse and assaults faced by emergency services workers while on the job.

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South Western Ambulance Charity

The South Western Ambulance Charity, founded in 1995, uses gifted monies to benefit those in our communities who use our service and to improve the welfare of the staff and volunteers of the South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust. 

Our charitable support covers Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, Devon, Dorset, Gloucestershire, Somerset and Wiltshire including Bristol and Swindon.

If you would like to show your appreciation for the care that you or your loved one has received from us in the form of a charitable donation please visit our online giving website: Donate to South Western Ambulance Charity | Give as you Live Donate