Advocacy in the emergency services: Turning stakeholders into lifesavers

When you hear about the London Ambulance Service your first thoughts go to flashing blue lights and ambulance vehicles zooming across London on their way to stabbings and shootings.

Stakeholder engagement is crucial because the decisions they make can be life-changing for patients, writes Jai Patel
Stakeholder engagement is crucial because the decisions they make can be life-changing for patients, writes Jai Patel

You don’t think of our crews attending patients with long-term medical conditions or helping up an elderly faller at their home.

These patients will often need appropriate care somewhere other than hospitals, and our crews will work the wider NHS to organise alternative care in the patient’s community.

Decision-makers have a wealth of topics to get to grips with and face numerous organisations jostling for their attention.

It is my job to foster support for the organisation, to make sure that we stand out in the crowd and are at the front of their minds.

I use our unique position as the only London-wide NHS healthcare provider and a prominent member of the emergency services community to show them why the need to engage with us, and most importantly why we need them to be engaged.

We develop stakeholders understanding of the Service by being open and honest about the pressures we face. We get them out on the frontline with ambulance crews.

Jai Patel, stakeholder communications officer at London Ambulance Service 

The NHS is a changing landscape and caring for London presents specific challenges; over 150 languages are spoken, we have a transient population; and there are extremes of wealth and poverty and significant variations in health outcomes.

Add to this the increased demand for A&E services, emergency admissions and urgent care; it creates significant pressure on frontline NHS providers.

We need our stakeholders to recognise these challenges, understand how we are responding to them and that this is reflected in the range of services we provide to Londoners.

This understanding ensures that we develop consistent support for decisions affecting the Service and that stakeholder’s act in our best interests.

We develop stakeholders understanding of the Service by being open and honest about the pressures we face. We get them out on the frontline with ambulance crews.

In this way they can see our staff at work using their compassion, clinical skills and joint working with local health and emergency services to care for London.

However, my work isn’t only about showing stakeholders the flashing blue lights and ambulances.

A large part of it is educating stakeholders, giving them information to empower them so they are confident on speaking about issues related to the Service and emergency care in London.

We recently spent some time with London Assembly Members explaining to them about how we are working through our Public Education Programme to educate young people about the potential consequences of carrying a knife.

Our public affairs work is much more than letter-writing and organising meetings.

It recognises the vital role that stakeholders play as supporters and by giving them insight into how we work we encourage them to become ambassadors.

The decisions they make can be life-changing for patients, so we’re constantly working with them for the best possible outcome, and this helps us influence London’s future in a way that benefits our patients and staff.

Jai Patel is the stakeholder communications officer at London Ambulance Service


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