Record delegate numbers

The ever-popular conference is the ASA’s largest event and is the foremost pre-hospital and emergency healthcare forum in the UK. This year the conference attracted more than 400 delegates over the three days including a record number of international visitors. The event, which accompanies the largest exhibition of its kind in the UK, provides a major focus for learning, information exchange, debate and networking for all those involved in the emergency healthcare sector.

The ASA stand
The ASA stand at AMBEX proved to be a major draw, hosting a special display of ambulance-related equipment from the past seven decades to celebrate 70 years of ambulance service involvement in the 999 emergency number. The display was kindly arranged by Terry Spurr, Bill Dudbridge and John Stubbs of the London Ambulance Service Museum and also featured a vintage ambulance on a separate stand that drew many interested visitors.
The ASA stand also included two touch-screen terminals incorporating a questionnaire where visitors were asked how much they knew about the ASA and its activities, whilst offering them the opportunity to have their say on the future make up of the ASA as an organisation.
Hayden Newton, Interim Chief Executive of the ASA, says: “It is no secret that the ASA needs to change to reflect the modern NHS environment many of its members operate in. The feedback from the AMBEX delegates and visitors was encouraging as the majority of it was positive and constructive. There were also areas highlighted where we can do more to help our members. The ASA Board is currently looking at the options for the future of the ASA and decisions will be announced in plenty of time to enable us to start planning for next year’s AMBEX event.”
AMBEX is now recognised as the ASA’s high profile annual event bringing paramedics, technicians, control room operators, patient transport managers, ambulance service managers and voluntary sector workers together with politicians, researchers, policymakers and suppliers of specialist goods and services all under one roof.

Changes in the service
Conference delegates had the opportunity to explore operational, clinical and workforce issues and heard from a number of speakers. A live Q&A debate session was held with Andy Burnham MP, the Minister of State for (NHS) Delivery and Reform, prior to his move to a new post in the Treasury.
Mr Burnham talked of innovative developments in the ambulance service and improvements in meeting performance targets. He also took the opportunity to announce that from 1 April 2009 NHS Ambulance Trusts will be able to apply for foundation trust status, a move warmly welcomed by senior ambulance trust managers present.

Staff heroes
Mr Burnham also announced the introduction of the new Queen’s Ambulance Service Medal. It will reward ambulance staff who have made an outstanding contribution to the national or local development of the ambulance service or who have demonstrated commitment beyond the call of duty when dealing with major, large, serious or dangerous operational incidents that make exceptional and sustained demands upon ambulance service personnel. The new honour will be bestowed by the Queen and will be similar to the Queen’s Police and Fire Service Medals that already exist.
Said Mr Burnham: “I have work shadowed ambulance staff and witnessed the dedication they put into saving lives and supporting people when they are at their most vulnerable. It’s an incredibly challenging job and due to the dedication and professionalism of ambulance staff, we have one of the best ambulance services in the world.
“Ambulance staff provide a lifeline to people in their moment of need and they face the challenges and dangers of responding to 999 calls. This honour will rightly ensure that members of the service who make significant contributions to this key public service are recognised and it’s fantastic news for the service. This medal will be a recognition of what the whole country feels towards the ambulance service and the remarkable contribution they make. It is a fitting way to mark the 70th anniversary of 999.”

New conference feature
One exciting new addition to the conference programme was the development of an AMBEX Question Time, run in the same style as the TV programme of the same name. Held on the final day of AMBEX, Question Time was chaired by Nicholas Owen, the face of BBC News 24 and former presenter of ITN News.
Delegates had the opportunity to put forward their questions to the panel members including William Hancock, Chief Executive, South Central Ambulance Service NHS Trust; Anthony Marsh, Chief Executive, West Midlands Ambulance Service NHS Trust; Ken Wenman, Chief Executive, South Western Ambulance Service NHS Trust; Roland Furber, Chief Executive, British Paramedic Association and Eve Meredith, Chair, Patient and Public Involvement Forum, West Midlands Ambulance Service NHS Trust.
AMBEX 2007 ended on a high with a superb closing motivational address from Lord Stevens, the former Metropolitan Police Commissioner, who presented his thoughts on leadership and shared his experiences and views on managing organisational change.

For more information
Copies of the speakers’ presentations from AMBEX 2007 will be available soon on the ASA website at: .  

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