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Paramedic Mental Health and Wellbeing Steering Group

After several years of pushing locally and nationally for better support for the mental wellbeing of paramedics, David Davis and Chris Richmond with support from Executive Officers, Imogen Carter and Liz Harris and the College of Paramedic’s Chief Executive Gerry Egan have set up the Paramedic Mental Health and Wellbeing Steering Group. Recruitment to expand the group was completed in March 2018 and resulted in a broad range of experience and expertise. The Steering Group will initially be focusing on introducing a team of paramedic Peer Supporters for members undergoing Fitness to Practise concerns, collaboration with the Mind Blue Light Programme and joint working with The Ambulance Service Charity as a provider of a range of support services.  Read about the recent Paramedic Mental Health and Wellbeing Stakeholder Collaboration Day.

Andrea James, Partner, Knight 1759

Andrea James is an English and Irish qualified solicitor and an expert in professional discipline and healthcare regulatory law.  The main focus of her work is defending professionals at fitness to practise proceedings before their regulatory bodies, particularly paramedics before the Health & Care Professions Council.  Andrea has acted for the College of Paramedics since the inception of its fitness to practise insurance scheme in 2012 and has represented healthcare professionals experiencing every kind of adverse mental and physical health.  She is particularly interested in the impact of fitness to practise proceedings upon the health of previously well registrants and how registrants can best be supported through what is often a long and arduous legal process.

David Davis, 
CTP Clinical Programme Lead
Digital Urgent & Emergency Care
NHS England


David is currently employed as a Consultant level paramedic in Clinical Informatics, working as Clinical Programme Lead for CTP in the Digital Urgent & Emergency Care team at NHS England.  Prior to this he led the joint NHS England & Health Education England NHS111 Workforce Development Programme, which, in Summer 2018, published a national Blueprint for the NHS111 and Integrated Urgent Care workforce in England.  Recently appointed as a Founding Fellow of the Faculty of Clinical Informatics, David has worked as an AHP informatics national clinical lead within NHS England, the Department of Health and Health & Social Care Information Centre.  Until recently, he has represented the College at the NHS Pathways National Clinical Governance Group and the Emergency Call Prioritisation Group following a role as clinical lead for telephone triage in an English Ambulance Trust.  Formerly Chair of the Honours & Awards Committee, Stroke Lead, Parliamentary Lead and Director of Communications, David is a Fellow of the College of Paramedics.  As a spokesperson on mental health, he has given evidence at the Home Affairs Select Committee on behalf of the College around Mental Health Policing and is also a Peer Inspector and member of the mental health steering group for Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabularies and Fire & Rescue Services.  He is part of the Editorial Board for the Journal of Paramedic Practice, member of the South East Coast Clinical Senate and still does frontline operational shifts on ambulances. 

Chris Richmond, Implementation Lead, NHS Right Care

Chris Richmond, Paramedic. 25 years working in the NHS, spending time as a lecturer in Advance Practice and has worked in a number of national positions in NHS England. During his time at NHS England he has been the Mental Health Lead for NHS 111, worked on the design of new payment methods for the NHS and is now working in NHS RightCare testing and scaling innovations. In addition to this and throughout his career he has been passionate about the well-being of the Ambulance service workforce, and strives to ensure that Paramedics not only know the signs of Mental Health issues in others but also themselves. Outside of work he is also a Board Trustee for The Cellar Trust Charity in Bradford, helping them to provide vital support for people suffering from mental health issues.

Jo Mildenhall, Paramedic Team Leader, South Central Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust.

Jo has worked for SCAS since 1998 and following her attendance at a rail disaster in 2004, Jo became interested in the welfare of ambulance staff; particularly around stress and traumatic distress. She completed her Masters degree in Trauma Psychology at the University of Nottingham, for which her dissertation was a qualitative exploration of paramedics’ experiences of attending distressing calls, and of the support they experienced/didn’t experience afterwards. Jo also qualified as a therapeutic counsellor, working with adults and children who have experienced psychological trauma. She is currently undertaking a PhD in Occupational Trauma Psychology at Manchester Metropolitan University, where she continues to research the impact of traumatic incident exposure upon ambulance employees and ambulance organisations.

Katie Pavoni, paramedic and Senior Lecturer, St George’s University of London.

Katie leads the Mental Health module for the BSc in Paramedic Science. Katie is the Pastoral Care Lead for the Department of Paramedics and is committed to ensuring future clinicians’ emotional resilience and preparedness for practice. In collaboration with the charity MIND, Katie has launched the first ‘Student Blue Light Champion’ Scheme in the country at St George’s. In addition, Katie is the Healthcare Professional Manager for the British Red Cross and their Safeguarding Lead for the Event First Aid & Ambulance Support sector. Katie is also the National Lead Safeguarding Officer for the Samaritans. Katie is currently undertaking an MSc in Advanced Practice (Mental Health) and is extremely passionate about the field of mental health and committed to challenging stigma and ensuring a culture of compassion, support and understanding amongst the paramedic profession.

Sasha Johnston, Lead paramedic, South West Ambulance Service.  

Sasha is passionate about enhancing patient care through improving the working lives of ambulance staff. She has worked as a paramedic for the past 16 years in Bristol, U.K. and Grand Cayman in the Caribbean. She recently completed an ASPIRE leadership programme with South Western Ambulance NHS Foundation Trust (SWASfT), is a member of the College of Paramedics 'Paramedic mental health and well-being steering group', a member of Bristol City Council’s ‘Thrive at Work’ task force, SWASfT’s mental health and well-bring task group and Public Health England South West’s work, worklessness and health network group. She is currently studying for an MSc in Clinical Research with the University of Plymouth, funded by Health Education England and the National Institute for Health Research. Her research explores ambulance staff perceptions and experiences of employee mental health support.

Ursula Rolfe, Senior Lecturer, Bournemouth University 

Ursula started working in the UK in 2009 as a clinical tutor and training officer for South West Ambulance Service Foundation Trust and was seconded to teach on the FdSc Paramedic Science degree, which developed into a full time position as programme lead from 2012. In 2015 Ursula moved to the University of Southampton to take the role of programme lead for MSc Trauma Sciences degree and was able to focus on PhD study: How paramedics manage and respond to patients experiencing mental health issues.  Ursula has an interest in mental health not only related to clinical experience but also to previous experiences as a trauma counsellor as well as her Psychology degree at under-graduate level. Ursula is hoping that her PhD will not only encourage other paramedics to start on their own research journey but that it will provide an evidence base for paramedics and support them in how they can manage mental health patients in the future.

Bernice Hancox, Specialist Mental Health Paramedic, WMAS.

Bernice enrolled on an MSc in Integrative Psychotherapy with The Sherwood Psychotherapy Training Institute in Nottingham in 2013. 5 years, 500 hours of Clinical Practice as a Trainee Therapist and a dissertation exploring Peritraumatic Dissociation in Emergency Service and Military Staff later she is due to receive her Academic Qualification later this year. Bernice is extremely passionate about improving Mental Health and Wellbeing, and the discourse that surrounds the area in society as a whole. Her interest in supporting colleagues began when she joined the West Midlands Ambulance Service Staff Advice and Liaison Service in 2013 - which is a peer support team of volunteers. Bernice now provides training to the team and looks forward to using this experience and expertise to support the College’s new team of Paramedic Peer Supporters.

Jon Knight, paramedic, 111 and primary care GP/OOH, Somerset

Jon has been a paramedic since 2001 and have also studied and worked in mental health and Psychology since 2010. His own experience of PTSD prompted him to try to better understand this area both to help colleagues, patients and friends who experience similar symptoms, and to help to understand the triggers in his own life that led to difficulties experienced. Jon has a Degree in Psychology and a post-grad certificate in Clinical Psychology. Jon has worked in a broad range of psychologically based services including inpatient and community MH services, specialising in Borderline Personality Disorder and PTSD in young people and adults. Jon is a trained Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT) facilitator, coach, and works from relational recovery and humanistic psychological perspectives. Jon is hugely passionate about the psychological wellbeing of colleagues in the emergency services, and with first hand experience of how profoundly challenges with Mental Health can turn someone’s life around, Jon is keen to support and help colleagues with any difficulties they may encounter so that their experience of life and career is a happy one.

Andy Elwood, Paramedic and member of the National MH Group for UK Search and Rescue. Patron PTSD999 and #itsoktotalk campaign 

After 2 years in Northern Ireland Ambulance Service, Andy enjoyed an 18-year career as a Search & Rescue Winchman. He became a Paramedic in 2005. He served on MERT (Afghanistan rescue helicopter), built an AIDS/HIV hospice in Lesotho and has a Queen’s Commendation for Bravery in the Air. He completed his SAR career with a period leading Bristow Medical Standards in the Northern half of UKSAR. Andy delivers Human Factors training to NHS clinicians and is focusing on work through his own company, which has delivered face-to-face and online medical training for responders treating civilian casualties in the Syrian crisis. He continues his mental health campaigning (http://www.big22.org) and is a Patron of PTSD999. To break the stigma, educate and support colleagues in this area, he has discussed his own experiences by leading a workshop at the UKSAR National conference and writing a magazine article. #itsoktotalk