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Welcome to SWASFT

June 2020

CLIMB Project Survey

We would like to offer you the opportunity to take part in the CLIMB project survey. This survey is to find out your views on sharing health data, a passionate area of interest identified by our patient and public involvement group.

The CLIMB Project study is anonymous and takes around 15 minutes to complete.

It is really important for our research team that you tell us where you heard about the survey. Please tick the Hospital/Clinic/Ambulance/Healthcare community setting, other healthcare provider box and select South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust’ from the drop down menu as shown below or view the video for further guidance.

Click to complete the survey, please share and thank you for your time.   

Coronavirus: Ambulance Staff Report 290 Violence & Aggression Incidents

12 June 2020

Hundreds of South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) staff have experienced violence and aggression while working during the coronavirus pandemic. 

Ambulance crews and control room staff reported 290 incidents during the first 10 weeks of lockdown from 23 March to 31 May. This figure compared with 199 during the same time period in 2019.

The majority (84%) of the cases during lockdown were verbal abuse from patients, relatives and members of the public.

There were also 46 physical assaults against SWASFT staff, up from 34 last year.

The areas with the highest number of assaults on staff were: South and West Devon (12); Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire (9) and Wiltshire (8).

Emergency services and other partner agencies across the region are working together to highlight the #Unacceptable abuse and assaults faced by key workers during the Covid-19 pandemic.

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They warn that such behaviour will not be tolerated, and action will be taken to prosecute offenders and protect staff.

Jenny Winslade, SWASFT Executive Director of Quality and Clinical Care, said: “Our ambulance crews and control room staff are working tirelessly on the frontline during this global health crisis.

“Sadly they are facing violence and aggression every day while trying to protect and save our patients’ lives, which is completely unacceptable.

“We support whatever action is necessary to protect our staff from harm, and ensure those responsible for any attacks are prosecuted.”

Several SWASFT staff have shared their stories of being assaulted while on duty in a bid to raise awareness of the problem, and to remind people of the consequences.

Emergency Care Assistant Mark Walker and a police officer were spat at by a patient he was trying to treat in Dawlish, South Devon on Monday 25 May.

The offender was sentenced to 22 weeks in prison for assaulting two emergency workers and being drunk and disorderly in a public place.

Mark said: “The incident was pretty unpleasant. But for the person to be arrested, charged and sent to prison barely within 24 hours was a good outcome.”

Weymouth-based Paramedic James Ryan was attacked by a patient in the back of an ambulance while transporting them to hospital.

James said: “It was a horrible experience. The man knocked my glasses off, pinned me down and punched me. This type of violent behaviour is unacceptable.”

Keziah Pietersen has experienced physical and verbal abuse while working as a paramedic, including being kicked down a flight of stairs.

She said: “I was bruised and shaken. For a long time after whenever I was called out to a similar type of job I was wary.”

SWASFT is encouraging people to support the #Unacceptable campaign by sharing supportive #Unacceptable messages on social media.

Jenny added: “Our staff demonstrate dedication and courage every day, putting their own health at risk for the sake of patients. We are so proud and thankful for them all.

“Any incident of violence and aggression can have serious consequences on them, their families and colleagues. Please respect our people as they continue working during this difficult time.”

SWASFT is also reminding people to follow the national healthcare guidelines to wash their hands regularly, keep two metres apart in public, and get tested if they develop coronavirus symptoms.

Black Lives Matter Movement

09 June 2020

The South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWAST) is aware of the challenges faced by our Black, Asian, and minority ethnic (BAME) teammates on a daily basis and the challenges of day-to-day racism, compounded by worries about Covid-19 and its disproportionate impact on BAME people.

We stand with our BAME colleagues, volunteers and all those service users across the communities we serve. We are committed to actively engaging, listening, hearing and learning from you to ensure this informs our work in eliminating discrimination and eradicating racism throughout our service.

Critically we are committed to removing barriers to enabling open conversations with our BAME colleagues and service users which are essential to building our understanding and awareness of the challenges and anxieties you face. Being able to openly discuss and share experiences enables every one of us to take a proactive and positive stance in supporting one another, through these challenging times and to a more positive future.

We stand in support of the Statement issued by the National Ambulance BME Forum and continue to work with and hear from our colleagues in our own SWAST BME forum to deliver real and tangible change, building our own understanding and supporting individual needs and anxieties at a time when these are understandably heightened. For those who need additional support please reach out to us. And to all those across our organisation, please reach out to one another and ask ‘are you ok’?. 

Ambulance Volunteer Mike Retires After 66 Years

05 June 2020

An award-winning South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) volunteer has retired after helping people in need for almost seven decades. 

Mike Kemp, from Liskeard in Cornwall, began his volunteering as a cadet with St John Ambulance in 1954. He was a long-serving officer with the organisation before finishing in 2006.

Mike has been a SWASFT Community First Responder (CFR) since 2002, treating thousands of patients in and around Liskeard, Looe and Par – and saving many lives. 

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His legacy will continue through his son Richard who is a SWASFT Paramedic, and the new volunteers Mike has trained. 

Mike said: “I have thoroughly enjoyed being a volunteer responder. No two days of responding are the same. But it’s a privilege to be part of such a wonderful team, and know you are making a difference to people.

“Once I was called onto a train to treat an unconscious diabetic patient who attacked the guard when he regained consciousness. Another time, when I was called to a care home, I was told that the elderly resident I was treating was just asleep and the real patient was on the other side of the room!”

One of Mike’s proudest achievements was becoming the first person to defibrillate a patient in 1988.

His volunteering with SWASFT was recognised in 2018 when he was given the Volunteer of the Year accolade at the Unsung Hero Awards.

Julia Cleeland-Smith, SWASFT Community Responder Officer for Cornwall, said: “I have been amazed at the dedication and commitment that Mike has given to support patients, community responders and enhanced first aid to the public.”

CFRs are trained volunteers who provide crucial treatment in the vital first few minutes of life-threatening emergencies while an ambulance is on the way.

During Volunteers’ Week, SWAST has been celebrating the invaluable work of its 800 volunteers who respond to around 40,000 patients a year across the South West.


Volunteers' Week, from 1 to 7 June, is an annual celebration of the contribution millions of people make across the UK through volunteering.

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: Donate to South Western Ambulance Charity | Give as you Live Donate