Media Release: 9th December 2021

Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance (DSAA) came out winners in three categories at this year’s National Air Ambulance Awards of Excellence which were held virtually on Friday 3rd December.

The life-saving charity was shortlisted as a finalist in five categories, highlighting the broad scope and high standard of the service they provide and the incredible motivation and professionalism of their people.

Doctor of the Year

Dr Phil Hyde, DSAA’s Medical Lead, was awarded ‘Doctor of the Year’. Dr Hyde’s selfless dedication to the service of patients in only matched by his incredible clinical knowledge and expertise. He demonstrates daily his incredible skills as a physician, his dedication to every aspect of patient care and his absolute commitment to nurturing and developing skills in others. What makes Dr Hyde exceptional, is what he has achieved for patients regionally and indeed nationally. Despite his punishing schedule as a Paediatric Intensivist in a Major Trauma Centre and as a member of the DSAA clinical team during one of the busiest and most challenging years in living memory, Dr Hyde continues to explore the envelope of what can be achieved for patients, particularly in the pre-hospital environment. His clear vision of how patient care, works better if it is properly ‘joined up’, is the driving force behind some extraordinary achievements over the past 18 months. These include driving an innovative project to support paediatric time-critical, inter-hospital transfers in collaboration with the regional paediatric transport services, leading DSAA’s efforts to support the rebalancing of pressure on critical care units across the country at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic and championing the development of a national clinical audit of pre-hospital critical care to evidence and support its future development.

Innovation of the Year

A collaboration between DSAA, Southampton Oxford Retrieval Team (SORT), Wales and West Acute Transport for Children Service (WATCh) and Bristol Children’s Hospital Trauma Team Leaders, was awarded ‘Innovation of the Year’ for formally supporting the time-critical inter-hospital transfer of paediatric patients in the South West Region. This new capability has taken five years to develop and mature and is the first of its kind in the UK. It is a testament to the determination of the stakeholders and demonstrates that the air ambulance community, hospital community and regional networks can achieve substantial collaborative improvement in networked patient care under NHS governance. The paediatric time-critical, inter-hospital service that is now being provided by DSAA, is in addition to their normal critical care activity and their regional adult time-critical, inter-hospital service.

Lifetime Achievement Award

The prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to DSAA’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Bill Sivewright for his outstanding contribution to the work of DSAA and the air ambulance community over the past 11 years. Bill’s inspiring leadership has enabled DSAA to become one of the most innovative and highly respected air ambulance charities in the country. He has led from the front across all areas of the charity, empowering other to do the same. This has resulted in the development of a small but extremely efficient charity team, where every member of staff feels valued and supported. The capabilities of DSAA have increased extra-ordinarily during Bill’s time as CEO and the quality and range of clinical care provided to the most critically ill and injured patients outside of hospital in Dorset, Somerset and the broader South West has been utterly transformed. Through Bill’s vision, leadership, drive, innovation and expertise, he has nurtured and created an outstanding air ambulance service supported by his team of clinicians, staff, volunteers and of course the community he serves. Whilst steering many dramatic innovations within the South West, Bill’s passion to serve his community goes above and beyond by way of his numerous commitments in a voluntary capacity; one of which was four years as Vice-Chair and then Chair of the Association of Air Ambulances, (now Air Ambulances UK).

Speaking on winning Doctor of the Year and accepting the Innovation Award on behalf of the team, Dr Phil Hyde said:

Thank you very much to Air Ambulances UK. It is a real privilege to be awarded Doctor of the Year, particularly in the context of the other finalists, Asha Lewinsohn and Anne Boothe’s amazing achievements; I know what exceptional doctors they are. We work as a really close team at DSAA and together have achieved exciting improvements in patient care. I thank them all for supporting me for this award. I am also delighted to accept the Innovation of the Year Award on behalf of the collaboration between DSAA, the SORT team in Southampton covering Wessex and the WATCh team covering Wales and the South West. This innovation has been an enormous co-operative effort, working alongside a fantastic group of people and we hope to share our learning with the rest of the country.

Bill Sivewright, DSAA Chief Executive Officer, gave praise to the whole team, before responding to winning the Lifetime Achievement Award:

To be shortlisted as finalists in five categories for this year’s Air Ambulance Awards of Excellence is a remarkable achievement. With 21 air ambulances across the country operating in an environment that demands high performance, to stand out in that company, is a real mark of quality. But for three of our nominations to then be held up as not one of the best, but the best in the country is simply outstanding. Congratulations to our whole team, who are all winners in our eyes and who continue to work tirelessly, for the benefit of the patients we serve.

Being awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award is an incredible honour and it has been a privilege to be able to contribute in the way that I have. My time as Chair of the then Association of Air Ambulances, was only possible, because our trustees had the vision to see that our own path at Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance would be bettered by collaborating with others. Therefore, they gave some of my time freely to the Association and I owe a huge debt of thanks to them. I rely incredibly on the team around me to allow me flexibility to do what I do, so a special thanks to them. For the air ambulance sector, it is impossible not to recognise that we all do a fantastic job; we save lives, we make lives better and we give people hope. What more can anyone have than that for inspiration.