Tracey, Patient Transport Service (PTS) Operations Manager, is one of our longest-serving members of staff with an impressive 31 years of service. She discusses what it was like when she joined the service all those years ago, how she has developed and how the trust has changed.
Tracey said, “I joined the service when it was Greater Manchester Ambulance Service in February 1992 as an ambulance auxiliary, based at Monsall station in Miles Platting. It seemed so far from my home, but it was actually only 10 miles. I even put in a transfer request for a station closer to home but when the transfer came through, I eventually declined because of the great group of people I worked with.”
At the time of Tracey joining the service, the workforce was mostly men. All station officers and leading ambulance supervisors were also men. The TV on station was even staffed by men. She told us, “When I started, all ambulance auxiliaries were part-time and we covered 08:00-10:30 and returned for 15:30-18:00. Some days we were asked to stay on to work overtime but this wasn’t guaranteed so I took on the job of the station cleaner three days a week, between the split shifts. A few years later I finished as the cleaner and took on a part-time contract to work as a call taker, in between my shifts. At that time, individual controls were based in the hospital setting. This I did five days a week until the opportunity came for a full-time role as an ambulance care assistant in PTS.”
After a few years in her first PTS role, Tracey had the opportunity to progress to team leader overseeing three Greater Manchester stations. This position, she held for the next 21 years. During that time, PTS went through a big change. In 2013, Arriva Transport Solutions won the contract for Greater Manchester and Tracey moved to the Oldham PTS station to look after the base of 68 staff. Three years later, North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) took back the PTS contract.
Tracey stayed at Oldham station until October 2021, after which she started a secondment opportunity as an operations manager, which she is still currently undertaking. Tracey said “Each of my job roles from joining the service has been greatly satisfying and with the experience I have gained, it is a pleasure to share with other colleagues to guide and support them through their journeys in NWAS. I wouldn’t say it has been difficult. I was always settled in each role and didn’t push myself to reach new goals until my children were older.”
She continued, “I have been supported immensely through my latest career progression opportunity with lots of support from senior managers, other colleagues and support from my team. It’s vastly different to years gone by where it was very much sink or swim.”
Over the years, Tracey has seen many changes within the trust. She explained, “NWAS has changed in many ways, from the uniform to the way NWAS works as a whole. There is so much more support for female staff to progress now and support for all staff struggling with mental health. Senior managers are encouraged to make health and wellbeing one of their priorities and I have recently become just one of the service’s mental health first aiders. This position helps me to support staff on a daily basis.”
Tracey believes NWAS is an inclusive and supportive employer. She explained, “I believe NWAS is inclusive because of the groups it supports and the groups that have been created to support staff through many changes and challenges. I’d say, now more than ever, it’s inclusive because there are a lot more female staff and managers. However, I think NWAS could further improve by engaging more with schools to explain to the younger generation what the ambulance service is all about and the different job roles.”
Reflecting on her long service, Tracey said, “When I joined, I actually thought I am only staying a short time I don’t think this is for me, but here I am 31 years on with lots of valuable experience to share with my team and colleagues, but also still learning each day. I have made so many happy memories, my funniest being when I was at my slimmest and had to help rescue a cat out of a tree at Monsall Hospital. I was lifted into the air like an acrobat to bring this cat safely down. I have made lifelong friends in the service, meeting when we were young and growing up together. Going to each other’s weddings and having our children. I also met my husband in 1993 whilst working at Monsall station. We have two children and our eldest, who is 27, also works for the service.”