“We need to have self-compassion”: This week’s leadership message comes from Head of Urgent and Scheduled Care, Liz McEwan

Side of RRV with lozenge

I believe everyone comes to work with the intention of creating a positive experience for their patients, colleagues and themselves. People working in the NHS come into healthcare, whether in a frontline or support role, to ensure  we provide care and compassion to patients. We see this every single day, in everything we do.

We hear about staff who go above and beyond to help their patients, whether that be staying late to ensure a critical care patient can be repatriated to their local acute (thank you Cathy and Maurice), or by ensuring all staff have the support and tools they need to do their jobs. We see stories of lifesaving by volunteers and staff alike at all hours of the day. Our support services ensure patient facing services are able to function and without them we wouldn’t be able to respond or deliver services to patients as we do.

For patients , care and compassion starts from the moment they pick up the phone, whether that is to book their patient transport or make an emergency call for help.  We see the feedback in the form of patient satisfaction, with services regularly receiving high levels of patient satisfaction in our surveys.  We’ve received praise in our recent surveys for being excellent and first class by patients in South Essex, Cambridgeshire, and Great Yarmouth and Waveney. The results for the three areas show that more than 90 per cent of the more than 300 respondents rated the service as very satisfactory or satisfactory. Also, more than 40 per cent of our patients said they would not be able to attend their appointments if the patient transport service (PTS) did not exist. This highly demonstrates the importance of the service.

Well done to all  PTS teams on these recent results, particularly Cambridgeshire where the new contract has been mobilised over the last few months.  These results also demonstrate your commitment in times of uncertainty. The services are commissioned through a competitive tender process and Suffolk, Great Yarmouth and Waveney and West Essex are all currently going through a tender process. This can be an anxious time and we will keep you updated as soon as we have any news.

But compassion isn’t just something reserved for patients. I see compassion between colleagues, again on a daily basis. I see the support we provide to each other when we lose a colleague or experience a significant event.  I see numerous messages of support for our green family on Facebook, either internally or to colleagues in other ambulances services when disaster has happened.

But there is one element of compassion that we seem to forget and it’s something most of us will be guilty of. It’s only recently that I was lucky enough to attend a compassionate leadership course run by the Kings Fund, and it’s there that I had a eureka moment.  We need to have self-compassion. Self-compassion is taking time to notice how we feel and making sure we take care of ourselves. We are often so busy taking care of others we forget about ourselves. We are often too hard and critical on ourselves. We should give ourselves the same kindness and care we would give to a good friend. Believe it or not, taking care of ourselves helps our resilience and enables us to provide even better care to others.  I’m pleased to be helping Lindsey (Stafford-Scott) and her team roll out some of the learning from that course over the coming months.

You may also be interested in something else I learnt – nobody can multi-task!

Have a great week,


Published, 10th August, 2017

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