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300 ‘See us as humans. Speak to us with respect. Listen to us.’ A qualitative report on ambulance staff requirements of leadership whilst working during the COVID-19 pandemic
  1. P Eaton-Williams1,
  2. J Williams1,2,
  3. the COVID-19 Ambulance Response Assessment (CARA) Study Steering Group
  1. 1South East Coast Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust, UK
  2. 2College of Paramedics, UK


Background The COVID-19 Ambulance Response Assessment (CARA) study was a prospective, longitudinal survey of UK ambulance staff providing both direct and remote patient care during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. CARA aimed to evaluate perceptions of preparedness and wellbeing, and to collect staff suggestions to benefit working practices and conditions.

Method Three online questionnaires were presented, coinciding with the acceleration, peak and deceleration phases of the first COVID-19 wave. Inductive thematic analysis was employed to represent 14,237 free text responses from 3,717 participants to 18 free-text questions overall.

Results A thematic framework was constructed from across the variety of questions that demonstrated participants’ objectives to minimise infection risks, maintain service delivery and support their own wellbeing. Additionally, the following requirements of national and organisational leadership were identified as enablers to achieving those objectives.

Evidence-based policies, that are consistently applied, clearly communicated and accompanied by adequate training improve confidence and allay anxiety. Demonstrating learning, planning, and astute use of resources will further benefit trust in leadership and to support staff wellbeing there must also be meaningful dialogue and demonstrable empathy with further appropriate preventative and therapeutic interventions enabled.

Conclusion Inclusive, compassionate leadership will support both ambulance staff wellbeing and service delivery whilst working within pandemic conditions. New working practices should be introduced with transparency and staff experiences of implementing changes should be heeded by leadership to enable further policy development.

Conflict of interest None.

Funding College of Paramedics.

This is an open access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited, appropriate credit is given, any changes made indicated, and the use is non-commercial. See: .

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