A further £3m is to be invested by the Welsh Government to recruit more emergency ambulance staff to improve response times for the most seriously ill or injured.
This additional funding will enable the Welsh Ambulance Services NHS Trust (WAST) to recruit around 100 additional frontline staff and introduce a new ‘Cymru High Acuity Response Unit’ (CHARU) service.
The CHARU service will seek to improve outcomes for people who have suffered cardiac arrest.
The additional staff will help to manage increased demand for emergency care and partially mitigate some of the complex wider system challenges which continue to place intense pressure on emergency care staff and services.
These pressures are being intensified by a range of local and national factors including challenges with patient flow through the hospital system, as well as staffing constraints.
The Six Goals for Urgent and Emergency Care Programme has been established to help improve access to urgent and emergency care and we have already made £25m recurrent funding available to support delivery of programme priorities. This complements the £145m made available to Regional Partnership Boards, as part of a Regional Integration Fund, to be used to help people avoid admission to hospital or leave when they are ready.
The additional emergency ambulance staff will be deployed in a targeted way across Wales in the areas which are under greatest pressure and where there is the greater clinical need.
Health Minister Eluned Morgan said: “We are providing this additional funding as we recognise the immense pressures the ambulance service is under to respond to the most seriously ill and injured people.
“By increasing staff capacity in the short term we can improve response times and ensure better care for people who have been waiting too long for an ambulance.
“Our Six Goals for Urgent and Emergency Care programme will support an increase in staffing in crucial areas in the medium term and help staff to deliver the right care, in the right place, first time whenever possible.”
Jason Killens, Chief Executive of the Welsh Ambulance Service, said: “Extreme pressure remains across the urgent and emergency care system, and we continue to work with partners to find solutions to the complex and long-standing issues.
“In the meantime, we’re growing our workforce to put us in the best possible position to meet rising demand and have already recruited to more than 260 frontline posts in the last two years.
“An additional 100 frontline posts is going to bolster our capacity even further, and we’re grateful to Welsh Government for funding this and the pioneering new CHARU initiative, which we hope will improve the outcomes for our most critically ill patients.”
Paramedic Michelle became kidney donor while working and studying through pandemic
A Barry woman is celebrating her graduation today which marks the culmination of an academic, professional and personal journey where she qualified as a Paramedic while working for the NHS through the pandemic and became part of a kidney donation exchange that helped her grandniece recover from serious illness.
Michelle Morgan, 52, was working full time as an Emergency Medical Technician at Barry Ambulance station, when she decided to further progress her career by becoming a fully qualified Paramedic. She joined the Dip HE Paramedic Science for Emergency Medical Technicians conversion course at Swansea University in 2019. However, only a few months into her studies, the pandemic hit the UK.
Michelle said: “As the pandemic hit, I found it very surreal with lots of uncertainty and new territory for everyone. Whilst I ensured I maintained keeping myself up to date with new information, guidelines and working practices at work, I was also undertaking the conversion course as well. The university was also adjusting and adapting to continue to provide its high level of educational support, which was testing time for lecturers as well as the individual learners.
“I did struggle with the lack of face-to-face learning and wasn’t the best for keeping myself disciplined with allocating my learning time, but I’m also exceptionally pleased with myself that I achieved my qualification and able to graduate with my cohort.”
As Michelle was facing these challenges, in August 2020, her grandniece, Keely Morgan, who was 12 and about to start high school, was diagnosed with severe kidney failure. This diagnosis was a shock to the entire family as it was detected via a blood test request following a few symptoms. Due to the severity of her poor kidney function, Keely was immediately placed on a dialysis programme and the kidney transplant list. Several family members including Michelle, underwent intensive screening, but unfortunately none of them were a match.
However, Michelle and Keely were offered the opportunity to join a shared pool for kidney exchanges, although they were told this could take some time to find a suitable match. Then, at the beginning of September 2021, Michelle received confirmation that they had been successfully matched. Unusually, there were 3 families involved in the transplant exchange who were based across the UK and so the process would involve multiple hospitals and take place on the same day – in just 2 weeks’ time.
Michelle said: “Initially I was in shock as I honestly expected the process of finding a suitable match to take months, even years. As a result, I hadn’t informed my employer or the university.
“I immediately spoke with my Locality Manager Alan Thomas, my Duty Operational Manager Kath Morgans and Practice Placement Manager, Paul Mayze, who all were amazing and exceptionally supportive.
“However, there was a chance that I would have to defer my studies, which caused me some emotional anguish, but then the Head of Paramedic Sciences, Nikki Williams stepped in and said I could continue. I felt she had gone above and beyond, and she continued to stay in regular contact with me following the surgery and when I returned to my studies and continued to offer any support I needed.”
The two weeks went very fast for Michelle as she had a several appointments with the hospital, had to complete an important exam at university and prepare for surgery by taking PCR tests and self-isolating.
Michelle said: “The surgical process for myself was quite straight forward and I returned to full operational duties after 12 weeks.
“Keely had to undergo further surgery following the transplant and is now on long-term medication but was able to return to her full-time studies in school. She is now 14 years old, dialysis free and able to enjoy being a teenager and I’m now a newly qualified Paramedic.
“Looking back, I’m very proud of my own achievement of undertaking a university course and graduating, while working full time for the NHS through the pandemic and donating a kidney. I would like to thank all my family, friends, work colleagues and cohort for their ongoing support throughout it all.”
Nikki Williams, Head of Paramedic Studies said: “The paramedic course is very challenging and demanding, as students must learn complex medical skills as well as the theory underpinning paramedic practice, while practicing their new skills with real patients accessing emergency and unscheduled care through the Welsh Ambulance Service.
“As if working and studying during a global pandemic is not difficult enough, Michelle took a short period of leave during her studies to donate one of her kidneys to her niece! She did not think twice about the disruption to her studies, despite how hard she had worked to win a place on the course, which emphasises what a wonderful, caring, and compassionate person she is. Michelle has given her niece a priceless gift and I am so proud of her for still managing to complete her Diploma and register as a paramedic.
“I think Michelle richly deserves to be recognised for her hard work and determination and for the incredible gift she has given her niece. Michelle is a true lifesaver!”
(Lead image: Swansea University)
Mary-Jayne’s triathlon for Ambulance Staff Charity
A Welsh Ambulance Service worker is taking on this year’s Swansea 70.3 Ironman to raise money for The Ambulance Staff Charity (TASC).
Mary-Jayne Granville, 35, an Ambulance Care Assistant for the Trust’s Non-Emergency Patient Transport Service (NEPTS) in Cardiff, will be swimming 1.2 miles, cycling 56 miles and running 13.1 miles on Sunday 07 August.
After a cycling accident and Covid-19 hindered her training, Mary-Jayne is now ready to take on Swansea’s first half Ironman course.
She said: “I’m looking forward to it.
“In 2019, I had a bit of a successful year of racing, although it ended in a crash.
“I trained really hard, but unfortunately the pandemic hit.”
Mary-Jayne started working for the Trust as a Volunteer Community First Responder in 2018, eventually moving to NEPTS in November 2021.
She said: “When I’m not working for NEPTS, I’m working on my parents’ dairy farm, which keeps me busy.
“To get to the farm, I also run from Pencoed to Cefn to keep my fitness up.”
Mary-Jayne is a club ambassador for Pen Y Bont Triathlon Club and will be competing for TASC, a charity close to her heart.
TASC provides a range of services to support the mental health, physical rehabilitation and financial wellbeing of the UK’s ambulance workers, their family members, students, and ambulance service volunteers.
Mary-Jayne said: “Before working for the Trust, I was working for St John Ambulance Cymru, who TASC also support.
“After the passing of two good friends and colleagues – Dorian Williams and Gerallt Davies – TASC helped myself and Cwmbwrla station colleagues a lot.
“I saw the half Ironman was coming to Swansea and I thought it’d be a great place to go and raise money.”
This won’t be the Mary-Jayne’s first triathlon back after the pandemic, but it will be her first Ironman event.
She said: “In my first competition back last year, I finished third female and I’ve kept going since.
“I’ve dropped down from marathon to the half to ready myself for Swansea, and I’m looking forward to it.
“The triathlons keep me so motivated and it’s now all stations go for Swansea.”
David Thomas, an Operational Team Leader in Cardiff and Vale for NEPTS, said: “The management and staff from Cardiff would like to wish Mary-Jayne all the very best for her triathlon and taking on this challenge for a really good cause.”
You can sponsor Mary-Jayne through her JustGiving page.
(Lead image: Welsh Ambulance Service Trust)
Welsh Ambulance Service goes greener with new plug-in hybrid response car
The Welsh Ambulance Service has introduced more eco-friendly vehicles into its fleet.
Twenty three Toyota RAV4 plug-in hybrid rapid response cars are being rolled out across Wales, replacing some of the Trust’s older diesel-powered vehicles.
They are the latest in a raft of ultra-modern additions to an 800-strong fleet.
It is expected that the more fuel-efficient vehicles will drive down CO2 emissions and improve the experience of staff and patients.
Chris Turley, Executive Director of Finance and Corporate Resources, said: “The new features of these vehicles are without a doubt impressive, but what’s as significant to us is their improved efficiency.
“As Wales’ national ambulance service spread over an area of 8,000 square miles, reducing our carbon footprint in every way we can is something we’re very committed to.
“With no let-up in service demand, it’s more important than ever to have a modern fleet which provides the best to our staff, patients and the environment in which we operate.”
A reconfiguration of the rapid response car and its contents has reduced the overall weight by almost 100kg, which means a significant increase in the miles per gallon.
A redesign of the shoreline system from a previous standard hybrid model also means that both the auxiliary battery and vehicle accessories can be charged using one cable, not two.
The Trust is believed to be one of the first emergency services in the UK to do this.
Andrew Jones, Regional Fleet Manager in North Wales, who led on the redesign, said: “Reducing carbon emissions is key, and the build of the new Toyota RAV4 was a perfect opportunity to do this.
“This build is a plug-in hybrid rather than a standard hybrid, which will allow journeys of around 45 miles on pure electric.
“That’s an enormous step forward from a diesel-run vehicle, and a further improvement to the standard hybrid model we previously built.
“The move to a plug-in hybrid also enabled us to re-think the shoreline system – now crews can charge the vehicle and battery with just one cable, which we’re especially proud of.
“The EV battery is mainly charged with EV charging infrastructure and regenerative braking, which is when the wasted energy from the process of slowing down the car is used to recharge the car’s batteries.
“Every vehicle has also been fitted with solar panels on its roof, which allow us to benefit from the most available clean energy sources.
“All of this, plus a redesign of the interior layout, has helped us to reduce the weight of the vehicle by 97kg, which gives us a significant increase in the miles per gallon.”
The new vehicles have also signalled a change in how CCTV retrieval is managed.
Andrew said: “Previously, CCTV retrieval from the vehicle meant a physical, in-person removal of hard drive, which generated more miles by a second party.
“The new vehicle boasts a new CCTV system that will allow over the air retrieval of video footage, as and when required.”
Fleet Manager David Holmes said: “The modernisation of our fleet is a piece of work which never stops.
“Modern ambulance vehicles are essential in order that we can continue to provide the best experience possible for our patients.
“They’re also important for staff who can spend hours at a time during the course of a shift in these vehicles.
“These plug-in hybrid cars make for another exciting addition to our expanding fleet, and we look forward to rolling them out across Wales.”
The Trust is also developing its EV charging network infrastructure to support the rollout of electric vehicles as part of its commitment to the decarbonisation agenda and in response to the climate emergency declared by Welsh Government in 2019.
(Lead image: Wales Ambulance Service Trust)
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