Stakeholder Newsletter - 09/11/2020

Welcome to the latest edition of the Scottish Ambulance Service Stakeholder update containing an overview of the latest news from the Service. Please contact us if you have any comments or suggestions.

Queen's Ambulance Service Medal (QAM)

We’re delighted that John Burnham, Associate Director of Care Quality and Professional Development, has been awarded the Queen's Ambulance Service Medal. 

Since joining the profession in 1993, John has been at the heart of several pioneering developments which have changed the face of pre-hospital care.

Early in his career, John played a central role in the introduction of Community First Responder schemes, showing his commitment to understanding local needs and fostering engagement within communities by training local volunteers in basic life support.

Later, his collaborative work around coronary heart disease was fundamental to the introduction of paramedic-led thrombolysis, reshaping pre-hospital cardiac care and demonstrating his dedication to clinical excellence.

In 2006, John spearheaded a radical reshaping of education for paramedics within Scotland. Within two years of his appointment as Head of Education & Professional Development, and in the face of many significant challenges, his vision and drive was central to the transformation of paramedic learning from vocational training to higher education courses. Since then, several programmes including the BSc in Paramedic Practice have successfully steered the development of thousands of staff.  More recently John has led the further evolution of paramedic education, setting up arrangements with five universities to provide undergraduate degree programmes.

Alongside this pioneering work, in 2020, John led the Service’s response to COVID-19, identifying the potential risks and establishing effective plans and response mechanisms.

When off duty, John continues to regularly serve his local community by providing first response support and flies with the air ambulance to provide advanced care nationwide.

His selflessness is demonstrated through his longstanding dedication to St. John Ambulance and the British Red Cross. Initially providing voluntary weekend duties, his role has expanded to include delivery of advanced training to members and staff. 

On receiving his award, John Burnham (QAM) said: "Thank you to my colleagues and friends at the Scottish Ambulance Service. This is a huge and unexpected honour. I am delighted and humbled. You all do an amazing job, day in, day out."

John is a fantastic member of staff and very deserving of receiving this award for his brilliant work and huge dedication to the Service. 

Funding Announcement

On November 1st, we welcomed news that the Scottish Government had agreed to provide £11 million funding for the Scottish Ambulance Service to invest in staff and vehicles.

Up to £10.5 million is to be used to put 148 new staff in place across the country before the end of the year. It will also provide 24 extra vehicles for the service in Scotland, including 8 ambulances which will be stationed in Glasgow and Lothian – two of the busiest areas.

The funding will also help reduce the need for staff to be on stand-by in some of the more rural areas, with £500,000 being used to ensure priority stations, including Aviemore, Golspie and Oban have crews available 24/7. You can read more here:

Restart A Heart Day 

Scotland recently celebrated international Restart a Heart Day. Our partnership with Save a Life for Scotland marked its five-year anniversary this year and we continue to help more people across the country to learn CPR and save lives. We've already managed to equip 640,790 people with the skills they need to help someone in need and the partnership has contributed to a 45% increase in 30-day survival rates for those who have had an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest.

Latest statistics show that the number of people performing bystander CPR have been maintained - despite what is going on just now. It is really encouraging that, as a nation, bystander CPR rates haven’t changed and that when someone needs CPR, Scots are still helping, still caring and making an incredible difference.

The next phase of the Out of Hospital Cardiac Arrest (OHCA) strategy is being worked through and is due to be circulated to members and agreed in the New Year, with publication anticipated shortly afterwards. The last five years has seen all partners, including the Scottish Ambulance Service, lay an excellent foundation to take the OHCA system to the next phase. It is hoped that during the next phase, we will see further improvement in survival rates across Scotland.

First Responders

It is great to see that our Community First Responders are now back responding to calls and proving vital care to their communities. Earlier this month, we received a fantastic compliment for the outstanding care one of our first responders based in Peebles had provided to a patient who was choking, demonstrating just how important they are to communities across Scotland.

It said: “The Peebles crew were delighted with the response from Jamie, they expressed that he had probably saved that patient’s life. He was very smartly dressed, introduced himself, he was polite with the patient, making her and her family feel comfortable, his approach was calm and he gave the crew a very good handover, he also realised fairly quickly that the patient was having difficulty in breathing because she was choking, and as such started backslaps and dislodging the obstruction.”

We would like to thank Jamie and all the other Community First Responders for providing such good care to the people in their communities.

Mental Health Day

Earlier this month, the Scottish Ambulance Service, NHS 24 and Police Scotland teamed up on a new campaign for World Mental Health Day.

"You’re not alone with your mental health. We’re here to help you” was the clear message of the campaign to raise awareness of the full range of mental health information and services available to support people.

The campaign has been developed to support wider partnership working between NHS 24, Police Scotland and the Scottish Ambulance service as part of a joint response to the Scottish Government Mental Health Strategy 2017 - 2027.

Over the past 18 months, the three organisations have been working together to develop new ways to support people in mental health distress when they contact their services, including the new 24/7 Mental Health Hub that provides support for those contacting the 111 service.

Under the banner 'Together Let's Care for your Mental Health' there are a range of self-help guides and options for further support available at

The page also offers additional information for a range of day to day concerns such as anxiety, depression, young people's mental health needs, alcohol, gambling and drug use.


Mobile Testing Units are continuing to operate in locations across Scotland, providing a service to ensure patients in urban, rural and remote areas have easy access to a coronavirus test.

Around 470 temporary additional staff have been recruited so that we can support the Scottish Government’s Test and Protect programme.

The units, which complement the static drive-through testing centres and the testing being carried out in hospitals and care homes, ensure that testing is as accessible as possible for all communities.

Our remit is of a clinical nature with our staff administering the tests on site. Wider issues such as appointments, scheduling, locations of centres, demand or the timing of test results are managed and overseen by NHS National Services Scotland, alongside the UK and Scottish Governments.

Positive patient stories

We receive many compliments from patients who have been treated by the Scottish Ambulance Service. We are very proud to share with you just a handful of the compliments we received from patients and their families during Covid-19.

Ahead of Restart a Heart Day, a patient from Motherwell who survived a cardiac arrest thanked members of our staff for saving his life. He said: “I have been just over a year, every day grateful to have been saved and have been thinking about this for a period of time. I would very much like to say thank you to the individuals, without whom I wouldn’t be here today. Had it been another crew, had they been two minutes later, had a number of things not been exactly as they were, I would not be here, and I am very aware of how precious a gift they have given me. I have a second chance, thanks solely to their efforts and skills.”

A mum wanted to thank the emergency responders who treated her young daughter who has a complex disability. She wrote: “My daughter, who has Rett Syndrome and is non-verbal, had choked on something at lunchtime and was struggling to breathe.

“She is slowly recovering but without the quick response of your team, things would definitely been much worse, as the doctors told us that it was touch and go and she was in an extremely serious condition when she arrived.

“We will be forever grateful to the guys who attended that day."

Finally, a patient who suffered a fall praised two of our staff from Peterhead Ambulance Station for the care she received. She said: “I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks to two real life heroines. I suffered a fall whilst walking the dog and my partner called 999. As we were in the middle of a playing field in Bridge of Don Aberdeen, Elaine and her partner had quite a trek to get to me. I was in a world of pain and embarrassment and both ladies were fantastic at handling the situation with compassion and humour. My sincerest thanks to them both. I have since had surgery and am back home nearly a week later but I felt it important to give them the praise and recognition they deserve.”

Posted on 09/11/2020