A message from Keith Prior, NARU Director

Keith Prior 300x400My final words in the last edition of this column were, “here’s to a half decent summer – let’s hope the rain stays away.”

Well it did during July, but not so much in August, and as we enjoy the final days of summer 2014, our thoughts are now focused on capitalising on the major strides we have made during our first three years of operation as NARU.

The flexibility, agility and speed of response that NARU brings to the ambulance service nationally is now starting to be noticed in the wider NHS.

For example, NARU has been heavily involved in the planning and response for Viral Haemorrhagic Fever (such as Ebola) and we have been able to mobilise ourselves to work rapidly with NHS England and the Royal Free Hospital in London to produce a film and poster-based training & awareness package that can be used not just across NHS Ambulance Services but also across the wider NHS.

I am pleased to say this has been very well received by the NHS and on the back of our successful Initial Operational Response (to a CBRN incident) work, really shows that NARU knows how to deliver.

In the same vein, last year NARU provided short notice support to Ambulance Trusts to help with national flooding response issues. We have also provided financial support to ensure the national JESIP (Joint Emergency Services Interoperability Programme) training can be delivered.

As the main JESIP programme draws to a close this month, we can reflect satisfactorily on a Home Office initiative that NARU has been heavily involved with. Aside from the training input, we provided a full time staff member (Carl Daniels) to support the programme whilst I personally sat as a member of the Programme Board and regularly attended the Strategic Board. The success of JESIP shows how NARU can play a key role in supporting national initiatives aimed at improving the multiagency response to major incidents and we will continue to do this.

NARU-Instructor-in-Incident-Ground-KitWe have also just completed the 2013/14 Resilience & Capability Assessment, which NARU provides in partnership with Zeal Solutions to all Hazardous Area Response Teams in England. Started in 2007, this excellent ongoing process allows us to conduct psychosocial assessments of all HART staff nationally, using 27 indicators to work out how they are being affected by the work they do.

This pioneering work shows NARU is being proactive in ensuring the health, wellbeing and general preparedness of  HART staff and Units across England and allows each Trust to really focus on the areas that are highlighted by their own assessment as needing attention. This work has also allowed us to develop national benchmarks. This means each Trust can check the experiences of their staff against other HART units, which further adds to the value of the data.

Although we must remember it is a very rigorous and highly complex process, it is interesting that in this year’s survey over 97% of the indicators required no immediate action and none were risk rated as dangerous, which I’m sure is a comfort to HART managers nationally.

I feel confident that we are moving in the right direction now with NARU but it cannot be done without the hard work of our staff and also without the commitment of our colleagues elsewhere in the service. A long-standing colleague of mine, Paul Kudray, retires from his post as North West Ambulance Service Director of Resilience next month and I would like to make a special point of thanking Paul for the support he has given to NARU since its inception. I wish him well in his future career.

I would also like to thank Dr Anthony Marsh for the support he provides NARU both in leadership as National Ambulance Chief Executive Lead for EPRR and Chair of AACE but also through the support given to NARU by West Midlands Ambulance Service staff. The hard work and commitment of Dr Marsh and his staff is appreciated by all at NARU.

We have also just learned that our NARU Head of Education & Training Dave Bull has been shortlisted for a highly prestigious Health Service Journal Award, in the Rising Stars category. This is an amazing achievement for Dave and he is the only ambulance service representative shortlisted from over 1300 entries! Naturally we wish him all the best in the presentation and interview that will hopefully help him see off his competitors and scoop the main prize.

Finally, I am looking forward to meeting faces old and new at the Emergency Services Show later in the month, so if you happen to be around pop over and see us on stand Z-242. Until then…

Keith Prior
NARU Director