Leadership message from Simon King

Simon King

I recently attended the funeral of one of our colleagues in Bedfordshire and was struck by a recurring theme in the tributes to Neil – he was noted for being kind; kind to colleagues and kind to patients alike. 

It has been a stark reminder to me, of the importance of us being kind to one another; even when work is tough; even when we think our managers don’t understand, when we can’t imagine that Ambulance Operation Centres (AOCs) really do see the bigger picture and when 111 seem to pass us calls, that could and should have been directed elsewhere. 

I’ve been having a bit of time back on the road recently, with shifts at Biggleswade, Kempston, Luton and West Herts. I’ve enjoyed refreshing my first-hand experience of the joys and challenges of working on the frontline again. Every time I do it, I have a little chuckle to myself at how far we’ve come. I still can’t believe that we used to have Lifepak 200s years ago – those museum pieces seemed ‘cutting edge’ at the time! The Corpuls is light-years ahead but probably the most welcome addition is the Air Con in our vehicles, especially when it’s 38 degrees outside. 

"It’s hard work out there, as many of you will know, and you have my respect for giving out physically, mentally and emotionally on a daily basis."

It’s hard to read, then, in last year’s Carter Review, that we are less efficient than most other UK Trusts. It essentially identifies that patients get a less good, less responsive experience than in other services, as we take longer to complete each case. Personally, I wasn’t aware that I was part of a system that takes longer than others, but the details in the report are hard to refute.

In my experience, most of us focus on the patient we are dealing with at the time, whereas staff in an Emergency Department (ED), or a GP practice, can see the queue of others waiting for them, as well as dealing with their current patient. They therefore tend to be thinking also about those that are waiting and probably adapt their practice. We need to do the same and that means looking for opportunities to see how we can reduce some of this extra time, whilst still maintaining our 'outstanding' focus on patient care. For example, we need to make sure we book on duty right at the start of the shift and to minimise our time on scene, especially when our patient needs to be at the treatment centre rapidly. The 10/10 initiative is a good example of that; we’re aiming to be leaving scene and heading towards a Hyper-acute stroke unit (HASU) 20 minutes after we arrive. 

I’m also aware there is a lot of change going on at the moment. Most of us struggle with change, even if we can understand why it’s necessary, so our current climate calls for a lot of patient ‘bearing-with’ one-another.

"I hope the legacy of Neil’s time in the service will be that we remind ourselves and each another to be kind."

Sometimes work, like all parts of life, can be difficult, frustrating and even downright infuriating. We need to keep supporting one another, as we support our patients together. It’s good to have others around you who understand. 

There are a range of support services available and I just wanted to take this opportunity to unashamedly publicise a support group I’m involved with; the Christian Ambulance Association (CAA). You can find out more at: caauk.net.

I’m looking forward to seeing some of you out on the road during the summer, as I and other manager colleagues are working shifts on Double Staffed Ambulances (DSAs), to pitch-in over the holiday period. Take care out there in the heat and look after one another, whilst continuing to look after our patients.


Published 1st August 2019

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