Throughout the pandemic, healthcare professionals from across the sector have stepped up and played a pivotal role in the health service’s response to the virus. Ambulance services have been no different, with NHS Providers taking the time to shine a spotlight on their efforts.
Engaging in discussion with Daren Mochrie, Chief Executive of North West Ambulance Service NHS Trust, who also recently took over the role of Chair of the Association of Ambulance Chief Executives (AACE), it laid out what the key lessons learned from ambulance services’ experiences during the pandemic have been.
That included accelerating the role of ambulance trusts in system working.
Uniquely positioned, ambulance services can offer a joined-up perspective at a regional level, helping to identify successes and the challenges which lie ahead in planning the future shape of healthcare services.
Mr Mochrie emphasised how proud he was of the way staff, across a variety of roles, had worked tirelessly during the pandemic. He said: “This has been the biggest challenge ever faced by the ambulance sector, the whole of the NHS and the country.
“I have been in the ambulance sector for nearly 30 years and I didn’t think for one minute we would be dealing with a pandemic on this scale.”
Mr Mochrie also outlined the priorities for ambulance services going forward as we move towards a difficult winter facing both traditional seasonal pressures and a rising number of Covid-19 cases.
In his eyes, his key priorities as chair of AACE are:
- ensure the sector is prepared for Covid-19 this winter
- look after the mental health and wellbeing of staff
- provide system leadership
- build on digital capability within the service
- improve equality and diversity in the sector
There was also emphasis made to the need to make patient and family access to support easier through a reduction in the number of access points to care, as well as expressing hope that NHS 111 First early adopter sites would prove effective in helping manage an ever-increasing demand for NHS services.