Welcome to SWASFT

January 2018

New Year adventure in store for SWASFT sailor and transplant survivor

A passionate sailor who has battled serious health issues from a young age is about to take on the adventure of a lifetime as she takes on a 46 day, tall ship sailing expedition in the Southern Hemisphere.

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Tineke Dixon, age 46, from Exmouth, was born with a hole in her heart and spent much of her childhood battling severe illness and relied on the use of a wheelchair. There was little the medics could do for her at the time of her diagnosis but with medical advancement Tineke underwent a heart and lung transplant in 1988 and ten years later underwent a kidney transplant, which was donated by her mum.

Since then Tineke has made the most of her much improved health and developed a passion for sailing as well as spending time helping charities close to her heart.

Tineke, who joined SWASFT in 2009 and works as a Programme Manager, said: “I used to be quite an adventurous person but sometimes the more mundane things in life take over. With the 30 year anniversary since my first transplant on the horizon I felt a bit of wanderlust setting in. With my love of sailing and desire to help the charities who helped me so much I felt the need to reaffirm a few things and go completely overboard!”

Tineke will sail on Tenacious, the Jubilee Sailing Trust’s tall ship, and will travel 5200 nautical miles over 46 days. The crew is made up of able bodied and disabled sailors and leaves Auckland, New Zealand on 11 January 2018. Tineke will sail through the Southern Ocean around Cape Horn and will complete the trip when she arrives in Stanley in the Falkland Islands.

Tineke added: “I want the world to know how fantastic transplantation is. In the early days it was a bit experimental, but now donating an organ can be donating a lifetime, even more valuable than back then.  I want to celebrate how blummin’ amazing this has been for me and to raise money for my three chosen charities as a thank you for the essential support I received at different stages in my life. I want to ensure that others coming after me have access to the support that gets us from the cosseting of paediatric care into the self-determination of adult life.”

Tineke added: “I am getting nervous about the trip now that all the details have been finalised. I have never been at sea for such a long period of time and I won’t have met any of the other crew until I see them on the deck in Auckland. But I have an adventurous spirit, just like my fantastic mum, and I know that it will be a really exciting and rewarding time too.”

Not only is Tineke taking on the ambitious sailing adventure but she has set herself the target of raising £5200 (to match the nautical miles of the trip) for each of the three charities who have helped her throughout her life. Tineke will be raising funds for:

Heartline – who support families of children born with heart conditions.

The Somerville Foundation – who work with heart children as they grow up through adolescence

Papworth Hospital Charity – this charity supports the research and the care of patients treated at which is an internationally famous Cardio-thoracic centre, Papworth Hospital.

Anyone who would like to donate should visit Tineke’s Just Giving page: https://www.justgiving.com/teams/CapeHorn

Tineke added: “Thank you to everyone who has helped me over the years, both through your donations and your support for me. This is going to be an arduous trip, not the faint hearted, but I can’t wait!”

Staying Well Service marks two year anniversary

South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) is marking the two year anniversary this December for the ‘Staying Well Service’ for staff. Here at the ambulance service, our staff are regularly exposed to traumatic incidents by the very nature of the emergency life-saving work they do.

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The Staying Well Service has proved a huge success, providing support and welfare for the 5,000 staff employed by the ambulance service. Many staff visit the Staying Well Service for social emotional or work-related issues. Around one third of the referrals received have been for physiotherapy.

Chief Executive, Ken Wenman, said; “On the second anniversary of this important service, I am really pleased to announce that work has begun on establishing a new partnership with Devon Partnership NHS Trust (DPT) to enhance the work of the team and to provide greater resilience for our Staying Well Service. In addition, DPT will be contacting colleagues in other Mental Health Partnership Trusts across the South West to join the partnership. We hope this will enable us to help recognise and act swiftly to support our colleagues before they get into crisis.“

The Staying Well Service (SWS) is provided in addition to the various support mechanisms already available to staff (like debriefings following challenging incidents for example). They can access this facility for problems and issues stemming from their personal life as well as situations occurring at work which are adversely affecting them.

Anyone accessing the SWS can be assured that their situation will be dealt with sensitively and in the strictest confidence. Accessible via phone or email, the service has been designed to meet the challenges associated with delivering a range of emergency and urgent care services on a 24-hour basis across an area spanning a fifth of England.

The Trust employs around 5000 staff and it is important that each and every individual has a range of help and support services available to them when they need it. Stress, anxiety, financial concerns, drug or alcohol problems, physical injuries and domestic violence are some of the triggers for people to get in touch with the trained professionals staffing the service.

Callers may be signposted to occupational health, physiotherapy or specialist counselling services. The Trust is also receiving invaluable support from organisations like PTSD UK, Mind, Red Poppy, the Samaritans and a number of safeguarding boards.

As well as acting as a support service for those already in need of support, the purpose of this initiative, which combines the skills of safeguarding, HR and clinical professionals, is also designed to be a proactive service encouraging people to ‘stay well’.

Dr Andy Smith, SWASFT Executive Medical Director, said; “We take the health and wellbeing of our workforce extremely seriously. Our staff are our greatest and most valuable part of our service. We could not deliver our services without them and we invest a great deal in making sure our staff are safe and supported.

The nature of their work means they are much more likely to encounter challenging and distressing situations than people in other occupations and we need to ensure that we provide them with a comprehensive range of support mechanisms.

“I would like to take this opportunity to sincerely thank our supporters, including the Samaritans and PTSD UK. The expertise and support they provide us is invaluable and no doubt make a real difference to individuals who need to access the services on offer. Our staff carry out a fantastic job in serving their local communities.”

Below are some SWASFT initiatives that support clinicians and paramedics crews with their stressful frontline jobs:  

  • Training is currently being provided to support staff with their mental health;
  • Roadshows and clinics are provided as well as team based interventions;
  • Bitesize sessions in managing health and wellbeing/sickness provided for managers;
  • Mediations for individuals and teams in difficulty;
  • Peer support network - workplace based point of contact for staff experiencing difficulties
  • ASPIRE provides tools on personal resilience and emotional intelligence;
  • Dedicated guidance to management on identifying and managing staff with mental health concerns;
  • A new rapid response for staff experiencing violence and aggression was introduced in August and already supported 47 staff through a more robust framework of support.

Gloucestershire Paramedic recognised for four decades of service

Steve Huck, based in Lydney, was recently recognised for his commitment to South Western Ambulance Service Trust at the organisation’s annual awards ceremony held in Bristol.

The ceremony acknowledges staff who have gone above and beyond their remit and deserve extra recognition, as well as gives colleagues a chance to appreciate the dedication of service by some of our longest serving members of staff.

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After undertaking a two week induction in 1977 Steve took to the road as an ambulance man and hasn’t looked back since. He has been a Lydney based man for the entirety of his ambulance career and last year retired from the Trust after 40 years service.

Steve said: “My mother worked with the wife of the station officer and I thought it sounded like a good job which I’d like to try. It proved to be a good decision although I didn’t anticipate it would be such a long lasting one.”

After starting as what was then known as an ambulance man Steve trained to be a paramedic in 1980 and was in charge of Lydney station from 1988 to 2007. He retired from the role of paramedic but worked as an Emergency Care Assistant until fully retiring earlier this year.

In his time Steve said the role has changed considerably, as has the caliber of recruits.

He added: “The biggest change I have noticed is the improved training and the array of equipment we now have. It’s very different to when I started and while it was a difficult job then, these days it is a very demanding role."

Steve added: “Once I’d started the role the more I realised it suited me. There is a total lack of any kind of routine in this job which really suited me. I enjoyed not knowing what you are dealing with from one job to the next. There is also great camaraderie and I think I have worked with some of the funniest colleagues who have kept me with the service for as long as I have.”

Paul Birkett-Wendes, Head of Operations (North), said: “Steve has shown a huge commitment to patient care and has served as a true ambassador to the Trust. During his remarkable career his actions have touched countless members of his community and saved many lives. His work ethic is commendable and it was a pleasure to see Steve receive his award.”

St Austell man recognised for four decades of service

Graham Matthews has many strings to his bow with 40 years service with the ambulance service, a former chip shop owner, self confessed cruise fan and a grandad to boot.

He was recently recognised for this commitment to South Western Ambulance Service Trust at the organisation’s annual awards ceremony held in Wadebridge. The ceremony acknowledge staff who have gone above and beyond their remit and deserve extra recognition, as well as gives colleagues a chance to appreciate the dedication of service by some of our longest serving members of staff.

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Even with four decades of service under his belt Graham continues to love his work and has no intention of retiring soon. He joined as an ambulance man in February 1976 and continues to work from St Austell, now as an advanced technician.

Graham said: “I saw the job advertised in the local paper and went for it. I did the two week training course and now I’m here I am looking to stay for as long as I can. I love the job. I love all the people you meet and I genuinely couldn’t ask for a better job. As long as I’m healthy I want to be here for as long as I can.”

In his time the role and organisation has inevitably changed and Graham added: “The service is very different now and at my age I’ve had to get used to the computerised, modern way but you still get to work with some good characters and we always seem to have a good bunch at St Austell. It is different these days and being on the road all shift and you don’t have the familiar faces as before but I still enjoy getting up and coming to work each day.”

Steve Boucher, Head of Operations (West), said: “To remain working for one organisation for so many years shows huge commitment and passion for work and a dedication to patient care that is remarkable. Graham is a real asset to the Trust and to his community and there will be countless people whose lives he has touched during his extensive career. Like a number of his colleagues I have had the privilege to work alongside him and know just what a caring, compassionate and professional clinician he is. Graham’s continued love for his role is admirable and I am glad he remains an integral part of our dedicated team in Cornwall.”


South Western Ambulance Charity logo

South Western Ambulance Charity

The South Western Ambulance Charity, founded in 1995, uses gifted monies to benefit those in our communities who use our service and to improve the welfare of the staff and volunteers of the South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust. 

Our charitable support covers Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, Devon, Dorset, Gloucestershire, Somerset and Wiltshire including Bristol and Swindon.

If you would like to show your appreciation for the care that you or your loved one has received from us in the form of a charitable donation please visit our online giving website: http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/charities/SWASC.