A dad-of-two who works for the North East Ambulance Service has become the first “non-uniformed” person to be awarded the Queen’s Ambulance Medal in the 2019 Birthday Honours List.
Paul Nicholson, assistant director of IT at the North East Ambulance Service, has been presented with the accolade, which is given in recognition of the enormous contribution and influence he has made in his 24-year career in the ambulance trust.
Speaking of his award, the Sunderland dad-of-two praised those who have worked alongside him during his time with the service.
Interim Chief Executive Paul Liversidge said: “While the medics and clinicians in the NHS are often recognised, Paul has worked behind-the-scenes on the IT systems that have made a genuine difference to the care we can deliver to our patients.
“Paul has been instrumental in bringing to life the vision of a single point of telephone access for urgent and unscheduled care.
“His skill at joining up IT systems between the ambulance service, hospitals and primary care that have never previously been connected has allowed for patients to be directed immediately to the right care in the right place in the right time.”
This model became the first single point of telephone access for non-emergency care that was piloted in Durham.
Paul was a key player in later ensuring that NEAS became the first NHS 111 provider and was integral to renewing another five-year contract in 2018.
His efforts meant thousands of patients who would have gone to A&E received safe and reliable treatment closer to home.
The 47-year-old said: “I am honoured to have received this award and have loved working throughout my career in the NHS to develop and support patient care.
“This award is as much a recognition for those who have helped and supported me throughout the years.
“It is a real privilege to work alongside such dedicated people in the health service and no more so than in the ambulance service today.
“The dedication and commitment of the staff at NEAS is a testament to the fantastic service we have in our region.”