Media Release: 19 November 2021

Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance (DSAA) is delighted to announce that it has been shortlisted in not one, not two, but five categories at this year’s Air Ambulances UK Awards of Excellence. The prestigious awards, which are sponsored by BMW Group, recognise the professionalism, excellence and dedication of the air ambulance community across the UK.

The Independent Judging Panel, including trauma specialist Professor Karim Brohi, Debra Alcock-Tyler (CEO, Directory of Social Change) and Steve Irving (Executive Officer of the Association of Ambulance Chief Executives), agreed the award nominations were of an exceptionally high standard and they were faced with some very difficult decisions when deciding on the shortlist.

DSAA’s Patient and Family Liaison Nurses, Jo Petheram and Kirsty Caswell have been shortlisted in the Practitioner of the Year category for exceptional clinical and professional duty. Both are critical care practitioners, who together have created, developed and deliver DSAA’s Patient and Family Liaison service. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, their work has not stopped. In fact, development of their service has continued at pace and they now reach more than 500 patients per year. Jo and Kirsty are two incredibly inspiring women, who have both made an enormous contribution to improving patient pathways during the last 18 months.

Dr Phil Hyde is the Medical Lead for DSAA and has been shortlisted in the Doctor of the Year category. Dr Hyde 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; well beyond the parochial boundaries of Dorset and Somerset. He is a remarkable clinician and amongst the very best in his field, but he is much more than that. His passion for humanity makes him a leader and visionary who has had an extraordinary year, even by his own exceptional standards.

A collaboration between DSAA, the Wales and West Acute Transport for Children Service (WATCh), Bristol Children’s Hospital Trauma Team Leaders (BCHTTL) and the Southampton Oxford Retrieval Team (SORT), has been shortlisted in the Innovation of the Year category. The collaboration has led to an expansion in advocacy for children, enabling Helicopter Emergency Medical Service teams to formally support time-critical paediatric inter-hospital transport in the South West region. The project is the first of its kind in the UK and demonstrates that the air ambulance community, hospital community and regional networks can achieve substantial collaborative improvements in networked patient care under NHS governance. This new capability has taken five years to develop and mature and is a testament to the determination of the stakeholders to collaboratively deliver on a vision of clinical excellence.

The incident which sees DSAA become a finalist in the Special Incident of the Year category took place in May last year, during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. It involved members of DSAA’s critical care team; Dr Stewart McMorran, Jo Hernandez and Pete Appleby (Specialist Practitioners in Critical Care) and pilot Captain Max Hoskins. The incident demonstrated an astonishing chain of care in order to achieve a wonderful outcome for a patient who suffered a cardiac arrest whilst cycling along a disused railway line (trailway). It also demonstrated excellent multi-agency working and collaboration between the police, fire, ambulance service and DSAA.

Finally, the whole charity team at DSAA have been shortlisted in the Charity Team of the Year category. With a small team of staff, every single member has come together over the past 18 months with immense dedication, commitment and diversity, to ensure that the engine of the charity has kept going. This was a critical part of supporting the heroic efforts of the charity’s clinical and operational crews, enabling them to maintain their 19 hour a day critical care HEMS service, but to increase their activity significantly during this period, by adding a special rota to support national COVID-19 inter-regional critical care transfers, as the NHS fought to spread the intensive care load across hospital trusts. This sustained period of exemplary work has given a crystal-clear demonstration of the team’s core belief; to ensure that DSAA delivers a life-saving service today, tomorrow and into the future.

Bill Sivewright, CEO of Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance said:

“Everyone at Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance is immensely proud of the work we do to continually improve patient outcomes through great teamwork, collaboration and innovation. We are absolutely delighted to be shortlisted in five categories this year and recognise the amazing company we are in amongst the shortlistees. This is not only testament to the broad scope and high standard of what we do, but more importantly, to the incredible motivation and professionalism of our people.”

Simmy Akhtar, CEO of Air Ambulances UK, said:

“The professionalism, excellence and dedication of all those who work and volunteer within the air ambulance community is extraordinary. We are incredibly proud that these awards recognise their vital contribution to providing advanced pre-hospital critical care to people who suddenly become critically injured or ill, saving lives and improving patient outcomes every day across the UK. I would like to thank everyone who made a nomination this year; each one was hugely inspiring. Our judging panel had to make some very difficult decisions and so the individuals and team at Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance has every reason to be proud of their incredible lifesaving work and to have reached the shortlist for the Air Ambulances UK Awards of Excellence. We very much look forward to announcing the winners at our virtual ceremony next month.”

The Air Ambulances UK Awards of Excellence will take place virtually on Friday 3rd December 2021.