Ambulance service superstars scoop national awards

Congratulations to Hannah and Beth

Two of the superstars responsible for taking the region’s 999 and 111 calls have been recognised nationally for their commitment to patient care and their colleagues during the pandemic.

Health advisor Hannah Shrimpton and senior health advisor Beth Watson from North East Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (NEAS) both picked up awards at this year’s APD Control Room Awards, which recognise the selfless and unstinting efforts of control room individuals and teams who go above and beyond the call of duty to protect the public when they are most in need.

Hannah, who was named ‘Control Room Call Taker of the Year’, joined NEAS in 2019 as a 999 health adviser, and began also taking 111 calls late last year. She was nominated for the award in recognition of the unprecedented benchmark she has set in terms of the quality of calls and level of service and care she provides to the people of the North East.

The judges said: “Hannah's overall performance as a Call Operator in the Operations Centre has set a benchmark for excellence in patient care.

“Hannah's attitude and approach to her work is regularly praised. Her calm, compassionate, professional manner on calls is an inspiration to others and has been highlighted in a number of commendations, both from her colleagues and members of the public she has helped.

“In maintaining such a high level of performance, Hannah makes a valuable difference to patients' lives every time she comes to work.”

On winning her award, Hannah said: “I feel honoured and delighted to have been given this award, especially in a year that has tested us so much. I am one of many dedicated health advisors, clinicians and other team members who have pulled together to ensure we have provided the highest levels of care and advice to our patients and their families."

Senior health advisor Beth was named ‘Leader of the Year’ having undertaken as 12-month secondment as a team leader during the pandemic, quickly establishing herself as one of the most reliable and best performing in her role despite the challenges faced by COVID, regularly going above and beyond in her role to support her colleagues with incredible care, compassion and empathy.

The judges said: “Beth has adapted very quickly and seamlessly to her new role and established herself as one of the most reliable and best performing in the service. Beth is regularly identified and praised for going above and beyond in her role and has received an excellence report from one of her service managers.

“She has led the team through a huge increase in calls, challenging her colleagues to perform whilst also supporting everyone through the GROW coaching method.”

More than 450 staff work tirelessly 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, within the Trust’s Emergency Operations Centres, answering emergency 999 and NHS 111 calls, supporting and treating patients over the phone within the clinical assessment service (CAS), and dispatching ambulances to those in need. Together, they supported more than 1.3m North East patients last year.

Narrowly missing out on the night was health advisor Lauren Kay, who was shortlisted for Young Achiever of the Year, and senior health advisors Lauren Paterson, Rachel Wood, Terri-Anne Maine and Lynne Worthington-Bianchi, who were shortlisted for Team of the Year.

Gerardine Hope, call handling service manager, said: “This year, over 400 nominations were submitted for the awards so to have been shortlisted in four of the 10 categories shows the calibre of the awesome people we have working within our Emergency Operations Centre. And then to win two of them – wow!

“Hannah is the first ‘Call Taker of the Year’ not to work in a police or fire control room and her consistent attitude and approach to our patients were recognised by the judges as better than the best. To say I am proud is an understatement.

“Beth took on the challenging role of team leader in the midst of the pandemic when we were facing the busiest period we’ve ever had to deal with. More than anything, Beth’s care and compassion for her team and colleagues elevated her above the other candidates for this award and I am so very pleased that she is part of my team.

“Whilst I am very, very proud of and grateful to everyone in call handling who has dealt with the consistent and many challenges over the past 12 months, and continue to do so, I am especially proud of the fact that our team have been recognised outside of NEAS. And I don’t think that I can better the summary of the Control Room Awards which is ‘When the world was apart you came together to protect us’ – this is exactly what the team have done and what Hannah, Beth, Lauren, Lynne, Terri-Anne, Rachel and Lauren have been recognised for especially.”

Lynn Huldie, head of operations, added: “It’s such an absolute honour having these outstanding staff on our team. They are providing an excellent service for our patients and are brilliant role models for the rest of the team. I have been blown away by the dedication of all the candidates nominated this year.”

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