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David Harris Photo

David Harris

College Area: Independent

My journey in the medical profession commenced in Melbourne, Australia in 2002 when I joined the Royal Australian Navy as a Medic.

I worked in the Navy for eight years where I was trained in the fundamentals of pre-hospital care, primary care and nursing to support my responsibilities whilst deployed caring for more than 200 of the ship’s crew in remote locations.

This foundation in healthcare offered me the option to specialise in a number of clinical fields, however I was drawn towards the paramedic profession due to the excitement and challenge the job brought to me and with this desire I completed a Bachelors of Clinical Practice (Paramedic).

Around the same time I arrived in the UK to start my career in the independent ambulance sector working in governance as a Compliance Manager.

Today I have the privilege of leading the UK EMS division of Falck, the largest ambulance provider in the world.


What do you believe are the biggest challenges and opportunities facing the ambulance sector at the present time?

Paramedics! It might be an easy challenge to identify, however, put simply as a profession we have highly skilled and knowledgeable individuals who are now being recognised by other sectors as key solutions to their problems. With this acknowledgement and awareness, opportunities for paramedics outside of an ambulance environment are becoming more accessible today than they were five to 10 years ago. I come across paramedics daily who are taking up opportunities in GP practices, out of hours centres, disability assessment, and off-shore as there is a need for their skills in these environments.

That being said, what is exciting about this moment in time is that it also offers a fantastic opportunity to challenge leaders in the ambulance sector to see how they can continue to develop the ambulance service and provide options for paramedics to retain knowledge and expertise.


What is your vision for the ambulance services?

My vision for the ambulance service is to further challenge the paramedic profession and ambulance service to continue the move forward into other areas of healthcare disciplines, such as primary care. I think it is important for the profession to have equality with other allied healthcare professionals and remove the perception that some may hold that a paramedic is restricted to working only in an ambulance.

The recent success of paramedic prescribing and the entry point to the register for paramedics being moved to a BSc level are both significant in the recognition of our ability as a profession. I believe ambulance services have the opportunity to focus on primary care and preventative medicine using the skills and knowledge of our highly skilled, educated and knowledgeable colleagues and with these recent and significant steps this should support the recognition of the paramedic profession in the wider healthcare community.


How do you see the private sector contributing to the development of the paramedic profession?

For the independent ambulance (IA) sector to offer true value to the paramedic profession we need to offer a reputable, safe and quality driven service that is embraced by paramedics. Companies working within the IA sector need to consistently meet, and at times exceed the same quality drivers as our NHS counterparts if we cannot demonstrate how can we work consistently to develop the profession? Working for Falck, and studying the independent sector over the years, I have seen a migration of paramedics to the independent sector which in my view has been brought about through the offering and development paramedics can receive within the sector. I can only speak from experience, but Falck UK offers the ability to work with multiple ambulance trusts across the UK, working in different environments, with internationally trained clinicians, whilst also having the ability to experience other Falck services across the globe, all of which offers individuals the ability to become more rounded in their practice.


What do you see as the most important areas in which the ambulance services and the College of Paramedics should work together?

To protect and support paramedics working in the sector. The success of the profession will prosper if the focus of leadership teams are directed towards the individual donning the green uniform. By focusing efforts and alliance towards the individual the College and the ambulance services will benefit.

The key themes I would personally like those in leadership roles to focus on are 1) the mental health and wellbeing of individuals working within the ambulance sector, and 2) the protection from abuse for paramedics working in the field. These are areas that are already recognised by the College or the ambulance services, however we can continue to do more to cultivate a culture of working together and developing further support mechanisms in both of these important areas.


Away from work, what are your passions?

First and foremost, my family are number one and when I can remove myself from the office and emails I try to spend as much time with them as possible whilst they are still eager to do so. My passions are the stereotypical notions that a Briton expects of an Australian; and that is I am a passionate supporter of sport, mainly cricket and rugby.