My job

Award-winning advanced practitioner on working for an ambulance service

Innovations by North West Ambulance Service's Craig Hayden led to him receiving an award from the chief nursing officer for England 

Innovations by North West Ambulance's advanced practitioner Craig Hayden led to him receiving an award from the chief nursing officer for England Ruth May 

Picture shows North West Ambulance Service advanced practitioner Craig Hayden receiving his silver award for excellence in nursing from chief nursing officer for England Ruth May 
Craig Hayden receiving his silver award for excellence in nursing from chief nursing officer for England Ruth May 

What is your job?

I work as an advanced practitioner for North West Ambulance Service. My role is predominately based in our emergency operations centre where 999 calls are received and telephone triage is completed by nurses and paramedics.

What are your main responsibilities?

I provide senior clinical leadership and support to our cohort of nursing and paramedic staff. The role involves providing telephone triage to patients and directing them to appropriate care services, which is often not the emergency department. I also provide senior clinical advice to colleagues at the scene of an incident. I am also leading on suicide prevention for the trust with the aim of increasing staff education and awareness, reducing the number of deaths to suicide and providing better access to mental health services.

Why did you become an emergency nurse?

I wanted to work in emergency care after completing a placement in an emergency department as a nursing student. I knew then that I wanted to pursue this area of practice in my career.

What might you have done otherwise?

If I wasn’t an emergency nurse, I would have pursued a career in palliative or mental health nursing.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I work with amazing colleagues who all share the same drive as me to deliver high-quality care while supporting each other with shared knowledge and skills.

How and where have you developed your emergency care skills?

Across all areas of my nursing roles and in my current and previous work as a senior clinical advisor and clinical duty manager for the 111 service with North West Ambulance Service.

I began my career working in older people's care with patients with frailty, physical or mental health needs. I then moved to a service in the community that cared for patients with complex physical health needs and those with brain injuries. I learned various complex skills, such as vital airway management, including the removal and insertion of tracheostomies. I developed my skills and training and became a clinical nurse manager, leading a unit for patients with neurodegenerative illness.

After a few years I worked as clinical nurse manager of a mental health and acquired brain injury unit for young adults while doing some work as a forensic nurse in police custody. I left that role to work at North West Ambulance Service where I have continued to develop skills with emergency care and telephone triage.

What is the greatest challenge you have faced and how did you overcome it?

Being the first nurse to work as an advanced practitioner for North West Ambulance Service has been my biggest challenge so far. However, seeking support when I needed it as well as learning from the shared knowledge of my paramedic colleagues have been pivotal to my success.

What inspires you?

Evidence-based and innovative practice being delivered by colleagues which leads to safe and appropriate care for our patients.

What do you do in your free time?

I love to spend time socialising with family and friends, going for walks in the countryside, as well as planning and participating in charity events.

What achievement makes you most proud?

I was awarded the Chief Nursing Officer Silver Award for excellence in nursing by Ruth May earlier this year. I was commended for my dedication and innovative practice which has allowed me to push the boundaries of nursing at the trust. That was my proudest moment to date.

What makes a good emergency nurse?

A calm and collected individual who works well under stress, can think on their feet and has the ability and willingness to learn from others. Being able to work well in a team is also important.

What advice would you give a nurse starting out in emergency care?  

Take each opportunity as it arises and never be afraid to ask questions.

What is likely to affect emergency nurses most over the next 12 months?

Staff shortages coupled with an ageing population and the increase in demand for health services.

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