The event was held on Wednesday 5 July in a specially erected outdoor marquee with sandwiches, cake and music of the era to wish the NHS a happy birthday. Funded by the NWAS Charity, the trust’s longest serving colleagues were invited to attend along with those who share their birthday with the NHS and who joined in the NHS’ 75th year.
The NHS has a lot to celebrate, and the event was an opportunity to reflect on its achievements and developments from over the years as well as the role that NWAS plays as part of the wider healthcare system.
At the formation of the NHS in 1948, each county and city had its own ambulance service focusing purely on transportation and only having access to very basic equipment and training. In 2006, Greater Manchester, Lancashire, Merseyside, Cheshire and Cumbria ambulance services were merged to form North West Ambulance Service which now employs over 7,000 staff in more than 300 different roles.
As well as providing an emergency response to over a million incidents each year, NWAS also delivers NHS 111 services across the region for people who need medical help or advice and undertakes more than 1.3 million patient transport journeys every year for those who require non-emergency transport to and from healthcare appointments.
Deputy Chief Executive and Director of Strategy, Partnerships & Transformation, Salman Desai said: “This celebratory event was an opportunity for us to give back to our NHS people and thank them for their amazing commitment and dedication. There is a wealth of skills and knowledge within our workforce and volunteers, and no matter the role, we are united by our values and the desire to help and care for our communities and our patients.
“It’s humbling to reflect on the developments of the NHS over the past 75 years. Within NWAS we have recently made huge strides in terms of collaborative working with our partner agencies, the use of innovative technologies to create smart ambulance stations and our efforts to become a more sustainable organisation with the implementation of electric vehicles, to name just a few of the many things we have to be proud of.”
Guests at the celebratory event were also able to browse ambulance memorabilia from times gone by as Retired Paramedic and NWAS Museum Curator, Glyn Brown displayed a collection of photos and equipment dating back to the formation of the NHS and beyond.
Glyn retired as a paramedic in 2015 after a career spanning 42 years. He said: “One of the biggest developments that I have seen over the years is the training and capabilities of ambulance staff. From only giving very basic life support to now being able to provide clinical intervention for a range of conditions, it is so much more satisfying knowing that the help we provide can make a real difference to a patient’s outcome.”
Since the late 80s, Glyn has been collecting ambulance service memorabilia which he displays for staff and the public to enjoy twice a year at Crosby Ambulance Station and at various events throughout the year.
He continues: “I’m passionate about keeping up to date with the past and it gives me real joy when people come to see the museum and appreciate looking back on how things have progressed over the years, that makes all the hard work worthwhile.”
Colleagues across NWAS also celebrated the milestone anniversary with various NHS Big Tea events taking place at local sites.