North East Ambulance Service says fond farewell to Chief Operating Officer Paul Liversidge

North East Ambulance Service says fond farewell to Chief Operating Officer Paul Liversidge

Paul Liversidge QAM is hanging up his epaulettes after nearly 40 years’ service to the North East public.

Paul, aged 59, joined what was then Northumbria Ambulance Service at Benton Lane station in July 1983 on patient transport at the age of 21, before becoming an ambulance technician three years later and qualifying as a paramedic in November 1988.

Since then, he has gone on to make a significant contribution caring for patients and developing ambulance service personnel.

His father Reg may have already been working in the ambulance service but it was quite by chance that Paul found his vocation.

“I was a qualified mechanic and actually applied for a job in workshops, but when they called me to say I hadn’t been successful they offered me the job as an ambulance person instead,” he said. 

“I thought I would just do it for 12 months until another job came up but I loved it and, well, I haven’t look back since.”

Paul is proud to have worked in nearly every job role within operations, with highlights including being instrumental in the introduction of the air ambulance service in Northumbria, now Great North Air Ambulance Service. He also played an instrumental part in establishing an ambulance service in Kuwait, specifically responsible for the management development and training of the fledgling service following the Gulf War.

But his role within training is what he remembers most fondly. Paul took his first management role as a cadet officer after seven years as a frontline paramedic, where he was responsible for developing 16 cadets on a two-year programme. He rose to becoming head of the training unit for new staff and his success saw him appointed to the role of divisional commander in accident and emergency and later as a general manager for the Trust’s Patient Transport Services (PTS). 

“Training had to be my favourite role,” he said. “There’s nothing quite like the buzz you get watching someone come in as a raw recruit and leave you as a qualified paramedic.”

In 1998, Paul was appointed project manager for NHS Direct when it was launched in the Northumbria area – one of only three pilot sites for the new telephone health service reaching more than one million people and earning highly positive feedback in support of its roll-out across the country.

He was appointed board director in NEAS in 2000 with responsibility for accident and emergency services and became chief operating officer in 2012, with responsibility for more than 1,800 employees in the service. He is the longest serving director of operations in the country.

Other responsibilities over the years have included chairing the National Ambulance Strategic Fleet Group and serving on other meetings including the Air Ambulance Workshop Meetings, the national ‘Directors of Operations’ group, World Cup Bid Operations Group in Newcastle, the NHS Pathways national programme Board and the Ambulance Leadership Forum.

In the Queen’s Birthday Honours in 2017, he was awarded the Queen’s Ambulance Service Medal for distinguished service and this was presented to him by Prince William, Duke of Cambridge at a ceremony held at Buckingham Palace.  

“I’ve done a lot of different jobs over the years, so my career has been really quite varied and I’ve been fortunate to have had some fantastic opportunities,” he said.

“The service has changed enormously since I began my career; the ‘scoop and run’ days are over, our staff are qualified professionals who are able to deliver much of the care to our patients themselves. In the 80s you would be waiting for the emergencies whereas now, sadly, the emergencies are waiting for us. We do maybe three or four jobs on a day shift and none at all on a night shift through the week – I became a very good pool and table tennis player and my vehicle was always gleaming!

“I think the one thing I’ve enjoyed throughout it all is the people within the organisation. We tend to get the right behaviours and values in the people we recruit and the care they deliver is first class, I’m incredibly proud to have been part of that.”

Paul hangs up his epaulettes at the end of March and is looking forward to getting in some extra rounds of golf and spending more time with his wife Carol, a retired nurse who he met through work, as well as his two daughters, Rachel and Sara, and his granddaughter, Mia.

His daughter Rachel also works in the service.

NEAS Chief Executive Helen Ray said: “Paul will be a huge miss to the ambulance service but he leaves behind a legacy that will continue to serve patients across the North East. We will miss him enormously but he retires with our appreciation and thanks for his long public service. We wish him a long, happy and healthy retirement.”

Stephen Segasby, from Huddersfield, will take over the reins from Paul as chief operating officer at NEAS on Monday, March 28.  

Stephen worked for 18 years in clinical and managerial roles within UK ambulance services prior to joining NEAS, most recently as deputy director of operations at Yorkshire Ambulance Service and 14 years at East of England Ambulance Service before that, where he qualified as a paramedic and developed into a number of strategic roles. Prior to joining the NHS, Stephen had a successful career in sales in the motor industry.

He said: “Joining the NHS was a vocational life change and over the past 18 years I’ve developed a successful career leading innovative, empowered teams built on strong relationships, integrity and respect. I have a strong personal interest in system transformation, organisation and leadership development, and I’m passionate about developing paramedicine and supporting clinical practice and the role of the clinician within the modern NHS. 

“I’m really looking forward to joining the NEAS family and to building upon the foundations laid by Paul.”

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