Welsh Ambulance Service Programme wins HPMA Awards 2013

The HPMA Excellence Awards have been recognising and rewarding outstanding work in healthcare human resource management for over twenty years. Winning projects, large and small, have made a real difference to patient care and influenced HR practice in healthcare and beyond. This year’s awards ceremony was held at The Brewery in central London on 27th June. NHS Professionals sponsored the Overall Winner category, with the winner being selected by the judges from among the winners of the 13 other categories..


This year’s overall winner is the Welsh Ambulance team, who also won the NHS Wales Centre for Equality and Human Rights award for equality and diversity. We spoke to Helen Sullivan, Knowledge and Information Manager, to find out more about her award-winning programme.

How did you find out about the HPMA Awards?

Through the Centre for Equality and Human Rights; the Equality Leads for each of the health boards and the NHS organisations circulated all the information about the awards. We had only recently been working on this project and I looked at the criteria and saw it fitted perfectly. We didn’t expect to be shortlisted, let alone win our category and the Overall Winner award.

Why was there a need for this programme?

We went to a learning disability event where it was highlighted that people were struggling to know when to ring 999 and use NHS services, so we did a large scale exercise, involving different learning disability groups to see what the barriers were. It became quite obvious that there was a lack of confidence not just in using 999 but NHS Services in general, so we put a business case together. This was then signed off by the senior management team at the Ambulance Service and we were given the go-ahead to get started on the programme.

Can you describe the Welsh Ambulance Service programme?

It’s an interactive learning programme, the first of its kind in the UK. It has been designed to be a fun and informative way of learning about what to do and where to go for help if someone is hurt or feels unwell. The programme includes easy to read booklets, discussion topics, games and quizzes to reinforce learning. There is also a parent / facilitator pack that can be used as a guide to help parents and support workers get the most from the programme, either in a group or one-to-one setting. The resources have been designed to be available online via the Welsh Ambulance Service website and in hard copy.

Which areas of Wales has the programme been implemented in?

As it is available online, anyone across Wales can access the programme. We also implement the programme face to face, but haven’t got as far as North Wales yet, which is why the interactive element on the website is so useful. The facilitated pack also allows support workers, parents or people working in organisations that deal with children with a learning disability to use the programme.

How many people worked on the programme?

There were just two of us who developed it and another colleague helped us with the graphics. We worked with learning disability organisations to develop the programme and also trialled it with these groups as a pilot. We then made some tweaks, so the design was very much led by the users of the service.

What are the benefits of the programme?

The main benefit of the programme for the Welsh Ambulance Service is the increased availability of staff and emergency vehicles to attend emergency calls. Also, because the programme is available online and in a hard copy, it doesn’t require the Ambulance Service staff to deliver the programme, which makes it cost effective. We hope it has the added benefit of the public using the Trust services more appropriately too as they become more informed of when to dial 999.

For the patients, we have seen a significant increase in confidence in using the service that will best meet their healthcare needs and in turn will improve patient experience. We also have quizzes at the end of the programme to reinforce the learning, which allows them to check this learning has been achieved.

When you host the interactive sessions in the community what was the uptake like?

It has been a great success; we’ve delivered the programme to hundreds of individuals and they’ve all thought it has been fantastic. We’ve even had people who live in shared housing say they were keen to go back and share what they’ve learnt with those that they live with.

We’re very flexible in terms of where we will host a face-to-face presentation of the programme. We’ll go to wherever people with learning disabilities meet, so sometimes it might be at the local day centre or even a room in a church.

What is the potential learning for other Trusts from this project?

As we cover other NHS services they could adapt this programme for people in their community that they feel it’s relevant for. Also we are thinking of adapting the programme for children or people who can’t speak English at English for speakers of other languages (ESOL) classes. Local councils who provide ESOL courses are interested in this programme, because when people arrive in the country they need to learn about the NHS, as the health system will be very different from the country they have come from. This would be the perfect opportunity for them to learn about the Ambulance Service and all other NHS services.

What are your future plans for the programme?

It’s being shared with the other health boards and the local councils who provide the ESOL training. We’re also looking at the programme being suitable for children and young people so we can share it with other community groups. We have already adapted the session for Brownies Girlguiding and have tried it with children. We are looking at having an audio and a sign language version as well.

About the author

NHS Professionals administrator

NHS Professionals manages the temporary staffing needs of around 66 NHS Trusts across England. An integral part of the NHS, it aims to reduce Trusts’ spending on flexible workers without compromising quality, by providing greater transparency of demand and supplying bank staff at the best possible rate. Its bank of more than 40,000 flexible workers comprises general and specialist nurses, doctors, midwives, admin/clerical , allied health professionals, healthcare scientists, support services among other healthcare professionals.

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