Outstanding service by UK ambulance staff recognised in King Charles’ first New Year’s Honours List

This year’s King’s New Year Honours list has seen recognition for ambulance employees from North West, London, Welsh and Scottish Ambulance Services.

All were recipients of the King’s Ambulance Medal (KAM), which honours a select group of ambulance personnel who have shown exceptional devotion to duty, outstanding ability, merit and conduct in their roles within NHS Ambulance Services.

The King’s Ambulance Medal

Salman Desai

From North West Ambulance Service the KAM recipient is Salman Desai, Deputy Chief Executive Officer and Director of Strategy, Partnerships and Transformation.

Salman joined the Ambulance Service in 1997 as a Paramedic. From 2007-2015 he was Head of Service Development, undertaking a number of roles transforming services for patients.

In addition to this he provided Commander support in response to the Cumbria shooting and flooding (2010/15). He maintains his paramedic registration.

Representation from ethnic minority communities is traditionally low in the ambulance sector and Salman has worked hard to redress the balance, acting as a trailblazer for equity, equality, and better understanding, with the personal challenges that can bring.

Salman has been instrumental in supporting NWAS’ Race Equality Network, moving it to a more formal footing, ensuring its work is focused and impactful.

Learn more about Salman’s deserved accolade here.

Nigel Flanagan

At London Ambulance Service, Nigel Flanagan has also been recognised with the KAM.

Nigel has been employed at the London Ambulance Service for 20 years and is a Paramedic at the Service.

Alongside his exemplary service in his clinical role, for more than a decade Nigel has devoted huge amounts of his own time to leading charity campaigns at the Service that have seen thousands of gifts delivered to children spending Christmas away from home and supported hundreds of families facing hardship.

After taking a small child to hospital at Christmas and seeing how upset they were about not being able to open their presents, in 2009 Nigel spearheaded a yearly campaign to collect and deliver donated gifts to children spending the day in London’s hospitals, hospices, refuges and homeless shelters.

Each year Nigel organised London Ambulance Service teams to collect donations from Service sites, before travelling around the capital with colleagues to donate the gifts on Christmas Day. Under Nigel’s leadership over 13 years, the campaign expanded from donating presents to two sites in London to reaching 51 in 2019. More than 2,000 gifts were donated through the programme in 2017, with subsequent years seeing even more donations received.

Edward O'Brian

In Wales, Edward O’Brian, Macmillan Paramedic and the Trust’s End of Life Care Lead, has been awarded the King’s Ambulance Service Medal.

He joined the Welsh Ambulance Service in 2009 as a Paramedic and later held a Clinical Support Officer role before his appointment to the Macmillan Paramedic and End of Life Care Lead role in 2018.

Edward has led on a number of initiatives to improve the quality of care for patients at the end of life, including the recent appointment of the Trust’s first dedicated palliative care paramedics.

He developed the End of Life Care Rapid Transport Service which provides transport for terminally ill patients to their preferred place of death, as well as the ‘Wish Ambulance’ initiative which fulfils the last wish of patients at the end of life.

Get more details here.

Wendy Bathgate

In Scotland, the KAM has been awarded to Wendy Bathgate, based at the Service’s national headquarters in Edinburgh.

Wendy has been instrumental in establishing the SAS Benevolent Fund that helps numerous employees and families with support. She has been with the Scottish Ambulance Service for 35 years, working a variety of roles, including finance and education. In 1995, Wendy voluntarily became a founding Trustee and Treasurer of the Benevolent Fund, established to help staff members in times of hardship.

In addition to this, Wendy has also been the vital central point of co-ordination and organisation for the Advanced Practice team over the last three years.

This team has been a key part of the Service’s response to Covid and, drawing on her considerable experience in training and project delivery, Wendy has been absolutely essential in enabling a new way of working in SAS, with Urgent Care Advanced Practitioners consulting patients by telephone and video to ensure the best outcomes.

Read more here.

Further recognition for dedication to ambulance, paramedic and patient care services:

Tracy Nicholls

Tracy Nicholls, Chief Executive, College of Paramedics, has been awarded the OBE for services to the Paramedic profession. 

Tracy has been Chief Executive of the College of Paramedics since December 2019 and a paramedic since 1998.

She began her career in 1995 at Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Ambulance Service,  where she worked on patient transport services before progressing to the role of technician and then paramedic.

In 2001, she was promoted to station manager at Luton before heading up the service’s Training and Education Department in 2004 where her warm and effective style of leadership quickly became evident.

Over the next decade, Tracy’s career journey saw her hold down a number of important roles within EEAST including Acting Head of Quality Governance and Head of Clinical Quality. In 2018, she was appointed Director of Clinical Quality and Improvement at EEAST, becoming the first female paramedic to serve on any ambulance service board in a clinical role in the country.

Throughout Tracy’s professional working life, she has been an active and dedicated member of the College of Paramedics. Her desire to promote and strengthen the paramedic profession across the UK made her a natural choice to become the organisation’s new Chief Executive in 2019. Since then, she has managed to propel the College of Paramedics to even greater heights, despite years of turbulence within the healthcare system, brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Under her stewardship, the College of Paramedics has grown exponentially and now has more than 21,000 members. Since becoming Chief Executive, Tracy has helped raise the profile of the organisation through her regular media appearances where she advocates for members on a wide variety of subjects. She was instrumental in overseeing the College’s new governance structure with the formation of Congress and the Paramedic and Student Councils and has introduced a number of mental health and wellbeing initiatives for members, recognising that the long hours, staff shortages and mental demands of the job can place an enormous burden on paramedics and ambulance workers. In addition, she has been the driving force as the College seeks to gain Royal Charter status.

Claire Bevan

In Wales, Claire Bevan, the Trust’s former Executive Director of Quality and Nursing, has been awarded an OBE for services to nursing and patient care.

Claire started her career as a Student Nurse in Cardiff in 1986 and worked for over a decade as a Senior Staff Nurse and Ward Sister in Cardiology.

She subsequently progressed through a number of senior management roles, including the Executive Director of Quality and Nursing role at the Welsh Ambulance Service, which she held until 2019.

During this time, Claire led the development of a Mental Health Improvement Plan and the subsequent creation of a Mental Health Team set up to improve the wellbeing of both patients and staff.

Claire’s leadership also enabled the development of a Falls Framework and Response Model designed to provide a holistic approach to falls, from prevention to minimising the risk of further harm caused by prolonged periods of time spent on the floor awaiting an ambulance.

Claire was an ambassador for nurses in the ambulance service, developing a nurse career pathway to modernise the role of nursing in an out-of-hospital environment.

Her passion for caring for people with dementia and supporting their families also meant the Trust was named the Dementia Friendly Organisation of the Year by the Alzheimer’s Society in 2018.

Learn more here.

About the King’s Ambulance Service Medal

The King’s Ambulance Service Medal (KAM) honours a very small, select group of ambulance personnel who have shown exceptional devotion to duty, outstanding ability, merit and conduct in their roles within NHS Ambulance Services.

The award was introduced in 2011 (as the Queen’s Ambulance Medal, QAM) and ensures that the dedication of ambulance staff now has the same level of Royal recognition as other members of the emergency services.

The number of nominations for a KAM in any one year may never exceed ten and includes up to four Medals for England, up to two Medals for Wales, up to two Medals for Scotland, up to one Medal for Northern Ireland and up to one Medal for the Channel Islands. They are awarded twice a year.

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