An interview published by NHS Providers in partnership with the Association of Ambulance Chief Executives (AACE) highlights the pivotal role of the ambulance service in the nation’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.
In the discussion, Daren Mochrie, who is chief executive of North West Ambulance Service NHS Trust, and recently took over as chair of tAACE , sets out some of the key lessons learned from ambulance services’ experiences since COVID-19 took hold. He also explains how the response to the pandemic has accelerated the role of ambulance trusts in system working, and points to the priorities ahead as we move into winter.
In conversation with….Daren Mochrie shows how the ambulance service is uniquely positioned to offer a joined-up perspective at a regional level to identify successes and the challenges that lie ahead in planning the future shape of healthcare services.
The interview highlights the speed with which the ambulance sector was able to increase resourcing in 999 and 111 call centres and in operations out in the community. It points to successes in recruiting and training additional staff and volunteers, and the way trusts worked together to share learning and divert resources as needed.
Daren emphasises how proud he is of the way staff in a variety of roles worked so tirelessly:
“This has been the biggest challenge ever faced by the ambulance sector, the whole of the NHS and the country. I have been in the ambulance sector for nearly 30 years and I didn’t think for one minute we would be dealing with a pandemic on this scale.”
The interview sets out his key priorities as chair of AACE:
- ensure the sector is prepared for COVID-19 this winter
- look after the mental health and wellbeing of staff
- provide system leadership
- build on digital capability within the service
- improve equality and diversity in the sector
He also emphasises the need to make it easier for patients and their families to get the support they need by having fewer access points to care, and expresses hope that the NHS 111 First early adopter sites will prove effective in helping to manage the ever-increasing demand for NHS services.
Looking ahead, Daren also emphasises the importance of ambulance services having a seat at the table nationally, regionally and at system level as they have a huge contribution to make.