GWAAC’s Critical Care Doctor awarded MBE in New Year Honours 2021! - Great Western Air Ambulance Charity
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GWAAC’s Critical Care Doctor awarded MBE in New Year Honours 2021!

We’re delighted to announce that one of GWAAC’s founders and Critical Care Doctors, Dr Phil Cowburn has been awarded an MBE in the Queen’s New Year Honours list.

Along with the Queen’s Birthday honours, the New Year honours are the most significant announcements of civilian and military gallantry awards, given to individuals who will usually have made life better for other people or be outstanding at what they do.

Dr Phil Cowburn has been recognised for his outstanding services to pre-hospital emergency care, most recently during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic Phil and GWAAC’s Critical Care Team adapted and remained operational to respond to those in urgent need. During this time, Phil also collaborated with a wider team to help relieve pressure on the region’s hospitals by setting up the South West Critical Care Transfer Service – the first of its kind in England. Over a four-week period, the service transported 35 critically-ill patients between intensive care hospitals and has since won an award in The Excellence in Urgent and Emergency Care category of the NHS Parliamentary Awards 2020.

Phil who is also Acute Care Medical Director for South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust, appeared alongside hundreds of unsung heroes of the coronavirus pandemic in the New Year Honours list for 2021.

Dr Phil Cowburn said:

“I am truly humbled by this recognition. To me this is not really a personal accolade, it is a celebration of the great teams I work with. None of the great achievements could have succeeded without the superb group of colleagues I have the pleasure of working alongside.

“The passion and enthusiasm to deliver excellent patient care is so embedded within GWAAC, SWASFT; particularly the Critical Care Teams and Hazardous Area Response Teams. The progress made in improving paramedic practice within this region is exemplary.

“This year has put immense pressures on the entire NHS. However the collaboration between colleagues in the air ambulances, NHS ambulance service and hospitals has maintained high quality care and developed services that will continue for the future. Working together we can achieve so much.”

Phil has been involved in pre-hospital care for over 20 years, completing his emergency medicine training here in the South West. He was fundamental in setting up our charity in 2007, where he joined Professor Jonathan Benger, Founding Clinical Director, Trustee and Critical Care Doctor for GWAAC, to begin delivering the critical care service to those in need across the region.

In 2012, he became the Medical Director of GWAAC for two years, and continues today to be a member of our Critical Care Team who were called to over 2,000 patients across Bristol, Bath and North East Somerset, North Somerset, Gloucestershire and South Gloucestershire in 2019 alone.

Phil has been integral to our charity’s development, putting GWAAC at the forefront of advances in critical care. He has worked to develop the Specialist Paramedic role to ensure that critically-ill patients receive the highest level of specialist care from the team, and rolled this out across other South West air ambulances. He has developed career paths and advanced pre-hospital emergency medicine across the charity and further afield.

Anna Perry CEO said:

“I am delighted Phil has been recognised for his outstanding and extensive contribution to Pre-Hospital Emergency Care. We are extremely proud that Phil has been honoured with an MBE, and I would like to thank him for his inspirational efforts and congratulate him on his thoroughly deserved award.

“Phil is a humble person, and feels he only achieves what he does with the help of the whole Critical Care Team at GWAAC. We value all our Critical Care Doctors and Specialist Paramedics and know our service wouldn’t be possible without their time and dedication. Throughout the pandemic, they have remained right here and ready alongside other frontline NHS workers, putting their own lives at risk – to save the lives of others in urgent need during these incredibly challenging times.”

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Dr Phil Cowburn

 Dr Phil Cowburn completed Emergency Medicine training in the South West and undertook additional training in Intensive Care Medicine.

Phil was fundamental in the setting up of Great Western Air Ambulance Charity in 2007, where he joined Professor Jonathan Benger, Founding Clinical Director, Trustee, and Critical Care Doctor of GWAAC, as a registrar. Together they started delivering the critical care service out of a car before taking their first flight to a patient in 2008 after the charity leased a helicopter for the first time.

He became Medical Director of GWAAC in 2012 for two years, and continues today to be a Critical Care Doctor for the service, as well as Acute Care Medical Director for South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust. In addition to these roles he is involved with ambulance service Hazardous Area Response Teams and governance of specialist police medical units.

Phil developed the Specialist Paramedic role at GWAAC; a paramedic role with additional education and training meaning they are equipped for greater patient assessment and management skills – giving the highest level of specialised care to medical and trauma patients. He then rolled out the Specialist Paramedic in Critical Care role across SWASFT, leading the way for best recognition and treatment of critically-ill patients to give more people their greatest chance of a positive outcome.

Phil was also part of the team that recently developed the new Advanced Practitioner in Critical Care (APCC) role at SWASFT, which saw Specialist Paramedic Vicki Brown at GWAAC appointed as the first APCC in the South West in May 2020. This is just another example of Phil’s ongoing commitment to advancing pre-hospital emergency medicine enabling Vicki and GWAAC to develop paramedic practice to ensure patients receive high-end critical care when they need it.

His key areas of interest are pre-hospital critical care, particularly major trauma, cardiac arrest and pre-hospital emergency anaesthesia.

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