Brixton Cycles named Best Small Retailer at London Cycling Awards

Brixton Cycles has been voted Best Small Retailer at the London Cycling Campaign’s annual London Cycling Awards.

The event, held on Wednesday July 16 in central London, commended organisations, brands and retailers for their promotion of cycling over the last 12 months. Hosted by journalist and keen cyclist Jeremy Vine, the awards were separated into two parts: Consumer Awards, which were nominated by London Cycling Campaign members and voted for by the public; and Project Awards, which were nominated by the public and chosen by a panel of independent cycling experts.

Brixton Cycles was started in 1983 as a workers’ cooperative on Coldharbour Lane, before relocating to its current location next to Stockwell Skatepark in 2001. Opening in the wake of the 1981 riots, it has gained a notable reputation due to its long-standing staff, who ensure a level of experience that is not seen in many other bike shops.

On receiving the award, Lincoln Romain, one of the longest serving co-op directors at Brixton Cycles, said: “We are eternally grateful, it is a great honour and we are ecstatic to win the award. It is because we have put in a lot over the years. There appears to have been a lot of nepotism in the past, but the fact the awards were voted for by actual cyclists throughout London means a lot.”

Speaking on behalf of the local London Cycling Campaign group, Lambeth Cyclists, Luke Evans said: “We congratulate Brixton Cycles, one of the best bike shops in South London, on winning this well deserved award. This recognises the key role that Brixton Cycles have played in keeping Lambeth’s cyclists on the road and promoting cycling over the past 30 years.

“This shop has played a big part in making Lambeth one of the most cycle friendly boroughs in London.”

Brixton Cycles is one of over 125 cycle shops across London which offer discounts to London Cycling Campaign members.

Taken from Brixton Blog/Bugle, published 25 July 2014.

Minister for Civil Society assures air ambulances his ‘door is always open’

L to R Bill Sivewright AAA - Nick Hurd MP Minister for Civil Society - G...

From left to right: Bill Sivewright, NIck Hurd MP, Guy Opperman MP, Clive Dickin. Photo credit: Association of Air Ambulances

The Minister for Civil Society, Nick Hurd MP, has told members of air ambulance charities that his ‘door is always open’.

Speaking at a reception held by the All Party Parliamentary Group for Air Ambulances (APPGAA) on 9 June on the House of Commons Terrace, Westminster, Mr Hurd MP extended an open invitation to all air ambulance charities:

‘My offer is this, it is a very simple one: my door is always open. Please come and see me. My job is to advocate on behalf of civil society on behalf of the voluntary sector. If you don’t feel you’re getting heard, if you feel you have got an argument that you really want to make, or you have got a brilliant creative idea, please come and see me.’

Mr Hurd MP praised the work being undertaken by air ambulance charities in the UK, who together raised £96.4 million last year through public donations and on average treat 70 patients a day by the 20 charity-funded services.

He expressed his admiration for air ambulance services as a result of the passion and enthusiasm underlying the organisations, as well as their pride and desire to do more to help people. In a sector that relies on public generosity, and people’s willingness and ability to give time and money, Mr Hurd MP said:

‘There is a lot the Government can do to make it easier to give.’

The event, hosted by the chairman of the APPGAA, Guy Opperman MP, allowed local air ambulance charities and ambulance services from the UK to meet with members of Westminster to discuss their operations and key issues affecting the industry.

The APPGAA, a cross-party group of MPs, was set up in 2010 to support air ambulances. Its aim is to raise the quality of care, effectiveness and efficiency of air ambulance services through closer engagement with policy leaders and policy makers. It recently led a successful campaign in the House of Commons on the relief of VAT on air ambulance aviation fuel, and is currently calling on the Government to endorse a policy of recognition of parity for all patients arrival facilities, following a report published by the APPGAA, which highlighted that 60% of air ambulance facilities in the UK are inadequate.

In his opening speech, Mr Opperman MP explained how he had needed an air ambulance following a horse riding accident during his days as a jockey. He went on to explain how the group acts as a champion for air ambulances, ensuring that they have a strong voice in the House of Commons. By bringing members of Westminster together with the various air ambulance charities, Mr Opperman MP said that air ambulances could:

‘Promote innovation, different ideas, and take what I consider to be the fourth emergency service and then say: how can these incredible voluntary organisations harmonise, work together, come up with innovations, look to learn the lessons—whether it is from 7/7 or individual disasters and accidents that take place—so that there is a cohorted body working together and pushing forward the standards, because we are the best in the world?’

Nick Hurd MP addresses the reception

Nick Hurd MP addresses the reception. Photo credit: Association of Air Ambulances

The Association of Air Ambulances (AAA) supported the reception for the second year, bringing patients, charities, ambulance services and legislators together.

Bill Sivewright, chairman of the AAA, welcomed the Minister’s comments and thanked everyone in attendance, before issuing a challenge to all those present:

‘We must rise to the challenge of ensuring that the patient remains the focus for all our efforts. Air ambulances need to work with their local NHS Trusts, leveraged through the influence of local MPs when appropriate, to ensure that the patient journey from the point of injury or medical incident through to leaving the hospital is as seamless as possible.’

Speaking to the Journal of Paramedic Practice after the event, Graham Hodgkin, chief executive of London’s Air Ambulance, said:

‘As active supporters of the AAA, we’re always appreciative of the opportunity to meet with our sector colleagues, as well as some key supporters. The APPGAA reception is an important event where we can collectively highlight the common issues that impact on our operations and funding to our stakeholders in public office that can positively influence outcomes on our behalf. The APPGAA was instrumental in securing the recent VAT rebate on aviation fuel and it was really encouraging to hear the Minister for Civil Society, Nick Hurd MP, say his door is always open to us as charities.’

Mike Page, emergency care practitioner and critical care paramedic for Great Western Air Ambulance, added:

‘This has been an excellent opportunity for the Great Western Air Ambulance Charity (GWACC) and our team of critical care paramedics to meet with and discuss with our local members of parliament some of the important issues affecting the organisation’s ability to deliver the patient-centred care that is so gratefully funded by the kind donations of members of the public.

‘We in the GWACC area are extremely lucky to have the support of so many of the local MPs, a number of whom have visited the base and provide a good level of support. It is always good to know that they have an open door policy for us and are willing to support our charity when needed.’

Looking to the future for air ambulances, Clive Dickin, national director of the AAA, said:

‘The work on our key issues continues. We are in dialogue with NHS England on the issue of helipads and look for continued support through the members of the All Party Parliamentary Group in delivering appropriate landing facilities within the National Health Service Trusts. On other key issues, we continue to lobby for all VAT, not just that on aviation fuel, to be recoverable for charities, and again, we are working hard with the All Party Parliamentary Group to ensure that that actually materialises. At a local level, we encourage our air ambulance members to be engaging with their local MPs and pressing home those messages and reassuring the fundraisers, the volunteers and the patients that we are constantly improving services.’

Mr Opperman MP, added:

‘I think they [air ambulance charities] need to lobby their MPs more, without a shadow of a doubt. They need to to try to realise they’ve got a great deal more critical mass and force then they have actually exercised previously.

The reception was undoubtedly a success, giving the air ambulance community a rare opportunity to engage with legislators and members of Westminster, and make their issues heard.

Taken from Journal of Paramedic Practice, published 4 July 2014.

AACE launch review into ambulance demand

A new project launched by the Association of Ambulance Chief Executives (AACE) aims to establish how the ambulance service in the UK is used.

AACE is calling for volunteers who have recently called 999 to answer questions about the occasion on which an ambulance was called and other services that may have been contacted for help prior to calling 999.

The use of ambulance services has increased by 59% over the last decade, but it is still unclear as to what the specific factors are which have contributed to this change.

‘The overall aim of the review is to investigate the underlying causes of increasing demand on the ambulance service,’ said Dr Melanie Edwards, project researcher for AACE.

‘During the review, we are examining how demand has changed nationally over the past 10 years, investigating what factors have contributed to the rise in emergency ambulance demand, exploring how demand on the emergency ambulance service relates to demand elsewhere in the urgent and emergency care system, and exploring steps that could be taken to mitigate rising demand.

She added: ‘We are using various strands of methodology, which have included a literature review, analysis of operational data from each ambulance service in England, and interviews with key stakeholders (representatives from ambulance services, representatives from organisations relevant to urgent and emergency care, and recent users of the ambulance service).’

Taken from Journal of Paramedic Practice, published 2 June 2014.

Schools to be able to purchase AEDs at lower costs

The Department for Education has announced a plan to allow schools to purchase defibrillators at a lower cost.

The Government is currently working to identify a supplier who will offer defibrillators at a competitive price, affirming that the deal will be sealed in time for the autumn term.

The Department of Health estimates that around 88 children per year die of sudden cardiac arrest; however, there is currently no data on how many of these occur in schools.

This announcement comes at the same time as new statutory guidance for schools on supporting pupils with medical conditions has been published.

Supporting pupils at school with medical conditions covers a range of issues including developing the roles and responsibilities of those involved in supporting pupils at school, information on staff training and advice on emergency procedures.

Schools Minister, Lord Nash, said:

‘There is nothing more important than keeping children safe at school. That is why this Government is today publishing updated guidance to schools on managing children with medical conditions.

‘By securing defibrillators at a reduced price, schools will find it much easier to install these potentially life-saving devices. We hope schools right across the country will take advantage of this.’

Anne Jolly, founder of the cardiac charity SADS UK, said:

‘It is crucial that schools have immediate access to defibrillators. Around 270 cardiac arrests occur in schools in the UK each year; the earlier CPR and defibrillation are administered the better the chance is of survival. Heart conditions, both diagnosed and undiagnosed can predispose a person of any age to sudden cardiac arrest. Sports and exercise at school can be a precursor to cardiac emergency and any trauma or accident can also trigger cardiac arrest. Having defibrillators and emergency action plans in place if a cardiac arrest occurs in school is very important.

‘Cost of the defibrillator is a consideration for some schools,’ she added. ‘However, it is important that its not just a defibrillator they have on the school premises, it is a complete defibrillator package that the school feels confident with and suits the needs of their school and age range of pupils. SADS UK has found that more schools are researching into the defibrillator and ancillaries and are more concerned that the defibrillator package they obtain is suitable, discussing with SADS UK how many defibrillators they need dependent on the size and layout of their school and how quickly they are able to access the equipment. Many schools have found as SADS UK organise the defibrillator for them together with initial defibrillator training this frees up valuable school administration time.

‘Using an AED prior to the arrival of the emergency services can make the difference between life and death. Research shows that for every minute that passes without defibrillation the chances of survival decrease by 10–14%, and to give the best chance of survival a therapeutic shock should be given within 5 minutes of collapse from a cardiac arrest. Ambulance services endorse defibrillators being available in schools as they know when they arrive on the scene they have a better chance of sustaining life as they administer more advanced therapy as required.’

Mark Whitbread, clinical practice manager of London Ambulance Service NHS Trust, commented:

‘Even if an ambulance is parked round the corner from a cardiac arrest it can too often be too late. Devastatingly, eight minutes after a cardiac arrest, the chance of a child surviving will have decreased by 80%. Using life-saving AEDs prior to the arrival of the emergency services increases the likelihood of the child surviving ten-fold.

The statutory guidance Supporting pupils at school with medical conditions, will come into effect in September, replacing current guidance issued in 2005.

Taken from Journal of Paramedic Practice, published 2 June 2014.

Investigation launched by London Ambulance Service into alleged exam cheating

London Ambulance Service NHS Trust (LAS) has had to suspend its paramedic final examinations following claims by an anonymous whistle blower that student paramedics had access to their final papers.

An external investigation has been launched that will look into the allegations that students going through the Trust’s in-house training programme between 2008 and 2012 had access to exam papers.

850 students went through the training programme during the four years but it is unclear as to the number who had access to the papers or how they may have gained access to them.

Ann Radmore, chief executive of LAS, said:

‘I was shocked and disappointed to hear this anonymous allegation and will not tolerate any form of cheating.

‘I am committed to sharing the findings of this independent investigation and being transparent throughout.’

It is unclear how long the investigation will take but it is thought the suspension of exams may cause a short delay in paramedics qualifying.

The external investigation will be led by Simon Brown, assistant medical director, north, for South Central Ambulance Service Trust, and chair of the Joint Royal Colleges Ambulance Liaison Committee Guidelines Subcommittee.

Taken from Journal of Paramedic Practice, published 2 June 2014.

Ambulance Service Institute celebrate excellence at annual awards

Photo Credit: Simon Hayward

Photo Credit: Simon Hayward

The Ambulance Service Institute recognised those in the pre-hospital care sector who have performed above and beyond the call of duty on 8 May at the Cholmondeley Room and Terrace, House of Lords.

Presenting the awards, Lord Ian McColl said:

‘It’s been a great joy for me to be here and to hear all the amazing things that you have done. It must be absolutely horrendous; some of the situations you have had to deal with. We are just so grateful that you risk your lives to do all these wonderful things. Greater love hath no man who gives his life for another—or risks doing so.’

Dr Anthony Marsh, chief executive officer of both East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust and West Midlands Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust, and chairman of the Association of Ambulance Chief Executives, said:

‘I think this event is a fantastic opportunity to publicly recognise the great work of ambulance staff and all those people that support the ambulance service in our country.

‘Our staff do a fantastic job every day, often in difficult circumstances, so to have an event such as today, where we can recognise excellence, thank them personally, but also their families, is a great occasion.’

Dr Peter Griffin, President of the Ambulance Service Institute, said:

‘I have been responsible for chairing the ASI Awards Committee and reading out the Award Citations since 2002 and I never cease to be amazed by the outstanding professionalism and often extreme acts of bravery that are detailed in the nominations.

‘Typically, the ambulance personnel concerned make light of their actions with comments like “I was only doing my job” or “it is all in a day’s work”. I see the ASI Awards as a way of making these dedicated people feel special for a day with a trip to London and a visit to the House of Lords. It is my greatest wish to get more publicity for the ASI Awards Ceremony so that these actions and the people involved can get the wider publicity that they most rightly deserve.’

The full list of winners is as follows:

Air Ambulance Team of the Year Award
Helimed 03 and 09 (Midlands Air Ambulance Service)

Control Room Award
Fiona Dinkel (Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust)

First Aid/CFR Award
Craig Singleton (West Midlands Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust)

Front-Line Ambulance Award
L Cpl Malcolm Martindale (225 Medical Regiment)

Innovations Award
East Midlands Ambulance Service NHS Trust

Military Award
Sgt Ryan Briggs (RAF Medic Tactical Medical Wing)

Paramedic/ECP Award
Paul Gibson (East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust)

Patient Transport Service Award
Alex Laston and Louise Ormsby (West Midlands Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust)

President’s Commendation for Long Service
Dennis Oakes (South Western Ambulance Service)

Private/Voluntary Ambulance Service Award
St John Ambulance (District 5, South East Region)

Public Spirited Award
George Reeder (Dock Master – Watchet Marina)

Special Incident Award
South East Coast Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (Sheppey Bridge incident)

Carl Ledbury (ASI Past President)

Honorary Fellowship
Professor Ian Greaves
Professor Sir Keith Porter

Taken from Journal of Paramedic Practice, published 2 June 2014.

New national retrieval service for Scotland

A new national specialist transport and retrieval service for critically ill patients has been launched in Scotland this month.

The project, named ScotSTAR, brings together the existing three transport and retrieval services: the Scottish Neonatal Service, the Transport of Critically Ill and Injured Children Service and the Emergency Medical Retrieval Service, with the Scottish Ambulance Service, which co-ordinates the teams and road and air ambulances.
The single integrated national service, which represents an investment of £9.5 million a year, aims to provide: ‘a sustainable multidisciplinary medical and clinical team, making best use of the range of road and air transport services.’

It is hoped that a centralised and co-ordinated approach will create opportunities for greater shared working, training and education of staff and bring efficiencies and consistency to the way in which some of the most critically ill patients are transported.

Dr Andrew McIntyre, Associate Medical Director, Scottish Ambulance Service, said:

‘ScotSTAR will bring together the existing expert transport teams for critically ill babies, children and adults. By combining this expertise, and co-locating key resources, ScotSTAR will provide a service that is exceptional by international standards and unique in the UK. It’s an exciting project and I am very much looking forward to being part of it.’

Alex Neil, Cabinet Secretary for Health and Well-being, said:

‘This world-class dedicated approach will benefit critically ill patients, by providing a single specialist integrated service across Scotland.

‘This new co-ordinated approach will bring greater efficiencies and ensure there is consistency to the way in which some of the most critically ill patients are transported.’

The teams, which are based in the West will move into a purpose built facility at Glasgow airport next year, where the new air ambulance base is situated.

Taken from Journal of Paramedic Practice, published 28 April 2014.

CQC outlines priorities for improving monitoring, inspection and regulation of ambulance services

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has published a signposting document outlining initial thoughts on how it intends to regulate ambulance services in England.

A fresh start for the regulation of ambulance services builds on the new vision and direction set out for the CQC in its strategy for 2013–2016, Raising standards, putting people first, and the changes proposed in the way health and social care services are regulated in the consultation document, A new start.

These changes were developed through engagement with the public, CQC staff, providers and key organisations.
The document sets out the CQC’s priorities on how it monitors, inspects and regulates ambulance services.

It also sets out the conversation the CQC wants to have with all its stakeholders in the ambulance service, including the people who use services, their families and carers, in order that it can develop a new approach which places matters important to patients at its heart.

As part of the new operating model that the CQC will use, it has set out a number of principles that will help guide how the CQC will inspect and regulate all care services. These include: the way the CQC register those that apply to provide services; the standards that those services meet; how the CQC uses data, evidence and information to monitor services; the specialists used to carry out inspections; how the public are given information on judgements about poor care quality, including a rating to help people compare services; and the action to require providers to improve, making sure those responsible for poor care are held accountable.

While these principles will guide the regulation of ambulance services, the detail of how the CQC will do this will be specific to the sector.

Five key questions will be asked of all services, to establish whether patients are receiving the necessary level of care: are they safe? Are they effective? Are they caring? Are they responsive? Are they well-led?

New inspection methodologies for the ambulance sector will begin in July. This will be followed by further inspections from October, to help refine the inspection methodologies and provide a meaningful system of inspections.

Taken from Journal of Paramedic Practice, published 28 April 2014.

UNISON warns stress epidemic threatens breakdown of ambulance service

Trade union UNISON has warned that the ambulance service is on the verge of breaking down as a result of high levels of stress among its staff.

A survey of 1,332 NHS ambulance workers released on 11 April has highlighted tight targets, long hours and the physical demands of the job have led to one in five saying that they have a ‘terrible’ work-life balance.

According to the survey, a third of respondents (34%) have taken time off work due to work-related stress in the past year. While some are looking to leave the profession, there are many who continue to suffer in silence, afraid of the repercussions should they make their voice heard.

It was also revealed that 74% of staff said they suffered from mood swings and irritability, two thirds said they were sleeping too little, and more than half suffered from anxiety.

UNISON Head of Health, Christina McAnea, said:

‘The Government needs to take work-related stress in the ambulance service seriously or it will break down.

‘Our members accept that their jobs can be physically demanding and challenging. However, some now tell us they are suffering from heart palpitations, flashbacks, nightmares, migraines, depression and an overall feeling of despair. As a result, many are actively looking to leave the profession.’

Higher call-out rates, extended waiting times outside A&E departments and the recent change of expected retirement age to 68 have all contributed to the increased anxiety among ambulance staff.

‘Work-related stress is the elephant in the room’ McAnea added. ‘Employers can’t keep on ignoring it. We expect them to do all they can to manage and where possible eliminate the risks to the health and welfare of their workforce.’

Taken from Journal of Paramedic Practice, published 28 April 2014.

Health Education England chair praises WMAS staff developments

Sir Keith Pearson, chair of Health Education England and Jenni Ord, chair for Health Education West Midlands have praised the staff developments that are being undertaken by West Midlands Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (WMAS).

During a visit to the WMAS headquarters on 12 March, the pair received an overview of the educational systems embedded into the Trust, such as paramedic progression and apprenticeships.

Key to the presentations were the way the Trust has invested heavily in helping staff to train to higher levels of education which ultimately allows individuals to deliver better patient care. For example, they heard about the additional skills paramedics have which means many more patients are now cared for within their own homes rather than needing to be taken to hospital as might have happened only five years ago.

The role of WMAS critical care paramedics and their role within the Medical Emergency Response Intervention Team (MERIT) was next on the agenda. MERIT has been noted as a world leading trauma initiative, which sees highly skilled paramedics and trauma doctors being dispatched to some of the most serious incidents within the region.

WMAS Chief Executive, Anthony Marsh said: ‘The visit provided the opportunity to demonstrate how we are strengthening our workforce, particularly with paramedic progression through recruitment as well as providing existing staff development opportunities. This progression will help to ensure we continue to provide patients with high quality services. We are getting ever closer to our aim of having a paramedic on every vehicle which will undoubtedly improve patient care.’

Taken from Journal of Paramedic Practice, published 26 March 2014.