An operational manager and a call handler from North East Ambulance Service (NEAS) were recognised nationally last night (9 February) at the annual Ambulance Leadership Forum (ALF) in Leicestershire.
The Association of Ambulance Service Chief Executives’ gala awards applaud excellence across the UK ambulance service sector in 10 categories.
NEAS 111 operator Craig Foster, of Gateshead, joined the service three years ago and was highlighted as the UK’s most outstanding control services employee.
He was quickly followed by operations manager Karen Gardner from Cramlington, who joined the service 30 years ago, as the UK’s most outstanding manager at Band 5-8a.
Both were put forward for the awards having been category winners at the Trust’s annual Above and Beyond the Call of Duty (ABCD) Awards in October 2015.
Chief Executive of NEAS, Yvonne Ormston, said: “We are enormously proud of Karen and Craig’s achievements. They represent the best in ambulance services across the country and are great ambassadors for the North East and our wider family at North East Ambulance Service.”
Cited during the ceremony as a ‘fantastic role model’, Craig is a dedicated call handler with a positive attitude who firmly believes that if he is doing what he should be, he will make a difference to more and more patients.
Passionate about what he does, Craig is described by his team leader as having a ‘caring and compassionate nature’ who always makes his patients the priority. This year he has had two successful CPR calls on infants from 111 callers, which is considered to be probably the best kind of patient experience.
Craig said: “This award has come completely out of the blue. Just to be nominated for is an honour but to win is amazing. This is for my team really. I have some fantastic colleagues in the Contact Centre at North East Ambulance Service.”
NEAS’s second winner, Karen, climbed the ranks from ambulance cadet to her current role as operations manager for north division over her 30 years of service.
Over the past 12 months, Karen has been instrumental in the recruitment, training and implementation of over 50 Emergency Care Clinical Managers at NEAS to improve leadership across the organisation.
Always with good humour and a smile on her face, Karen has single handed prepared everything from assessment materials to training courses, that she then went on to deliver, whilst also juggling the demands of changing roles and staff shortages.
She is described by colleagues as a fantastic example of someone who demonstrates every day to her staff that she and the organisation do care.
Karen said: “It’s lovely to be recognised after such a long time with the organisation. I just feel like I’m doing my job but the fact that I’ve been able to make a difference for my staff means more to me than anything.”
Ms Ormston added: “As a result of the work Karen has delivered, we are now far better supporting our staff with their welfare, their development and, ultimately, their patient care.”
Association of Ambulance Chief Executives (AACE) Managing Director Martin Flaherty OBE said: “The Outstanding Service Awards presented each year at the Ambulance Leadership Forum are a fantastic way to recognise and commend ambulance service employees from across England who have gone above and beyond the call of duty in their day-to-day roles.
“This year’s nominations were of a particularly high standard and the eventual winners were chosen for their outstanding contributions to the ambulance service and the patients it serves.”
North East Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (NEAS) covers 3,200 square miles across the North East region. It employs more than 2,500 staff and serves a population of 2.7 million people by handling all NHS 111 and 999 calls for the region, operating patient transport and ambulance response services, delivering training for communities and commercial audiences and providing medical support cover at events.
In 2014/15 NEAS answered 1.107 million emergency 999 and NHS 111 calls, responded to 302,687 incidents that resulted in a patient being taken to hospital, treated and discharged 18,144 patients with telephone advice and treated and discharged 81,990 patients at home. In the same year, emergency care crews reached 134,745 incidents within the national target of 8 minutes.