Working for EEAST and the wider NHS: This week’s leadership message is from Head of HR, Karen Barry

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I have been with the ambulance service since June 2005. I started as a senior HR advisor in the days when we were Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Ambulance Paramedic Service; I think it was the afternoon of day one that I was called to a meeting to discuss merger plans across all ambulance services. I am currently Head of HR, which includes managing operational HR, employee relations, casework and other interesting projects.

It’s been a somewhat strange few weeks for me.

I have had a milestone birthday with lots of celebrations and was fortunate to have a surprise trip to Paris to see U2 on their Joshua Tree Tour.  On arrival at Charles De Gaulle airport, the link escalators to the Metro and rail concourse were blocked. On looking down to the concourse, there was armed police everywhere and concerned and anxious looks on everyone’s faces. No doubt some due to the recent horrendous terrorist attacks, others concerned about getting where they needed to be on time. The police resolved the situation (we never found out what had happened), everyone was safe. It brought home to me again, just how hard the security forces are working for the public safety, and that our colleagues here in EEAST are a big part of that in the UK.

The U2 concert was brilliant (though being short, for the first four or five songs I couldn’t even see any of the band!). Patti Smith joined U2 on stage, with a nod to motherhood and people having the power. There was a focus on strong women around the world, and amongst many there was tribute to the murdered MP Jo Cox, who Bono referred to as having lived her life championing the lives of others, as well as mention of my heroine the late Kirsty MacColl. The reason the U2 trip came about was that Kirsty had put the tracks on The Joshua Tree in the order they appear, which many believe was a key contributor to the success of the album.

I came back from Paris feeling inspired.

Last week my family and I were involved in an incident on the M1 and were very grateful to the Highways Agency for closing the M1 and getting my son and his partner to a place of safety. Following the incident, they had to call on South Central Ambulance Service, and fortunately both were cared for very well and able to be released from the emergency department the following morning. I did try and recruit both the solo responder and the ambulance crew! 

Yesterday, I visited my mum in a care home. She has both Alzheimer’s and dementia. I spent several hours with my mum chatting, as much as we can these days; we listened to some of her old favourite tracks and there was a glimmer of recognition and a huge smile, hence a huge smile on my face too. Observing the employees in the care home, they work so hard and with such care and compassion, helping to soften the long journey through dementia. Through dedication from NHS carers, family and friends my mum is safe.

The reason I reflect on all of these situations is that I am so proud to work for an organisation and the wider NHS that contributes so much to keeping people safe.

A personal thank you and appreciation to everyone across the Trust, for all the hard work and effort contributes to excellent patient care.

Have a good week,


Published 24th August, 2017

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