New Year Honour for Chairman of South Western Ambulance Trust
31st December 2015
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Heather has worked tirelessly to support and promote the work of ambulance services for 11 years, undertaking both national and regional roles where she is respected for her effectiveness and influence with regard to national policy. 

Appointed as Chairman of South Western Ambulance Service in 2006, Heather has supported significant management change to deliver ambulance operations from Gloucester to the Isles of Scilly, covering a one fifth of mainland England (10,000 square miles) and serving a population of 5.3 million with some additional 17 million visiting holidaymakers. 

Most notably, Heather led one of the geographically largest and most complex ambulance services in the UK to achieve Foundation Trust status. This was one of the first such awards for an ambulance trust. She then led the Trust through the acquisition of Great Western Ambulance Service.

Under her Chairmanship, SWASFT has been acclaimed for its delivery of performance, as well as managing excessive demand and efficiency requirements over the past 10 years. In that time, £40m of efficiency savings have been achieved. She has also supported the development of new urgent care services, enabling SWASFT to pioneer many urgent care initiatives, ahead of other ambulance services. 

Chief executive, Ken Wenman said: “Heather has been an exemplary Chairman, steering ambulance services for over a decade through a range of roles in the sector. Under her governance, this Trust has demonstrated consistent innovation in patient care that has produced considerable benefits for the local and national community.”

Speaking about the announcement, Heather Strawbridge OBE, said: “Working for the ambulance service is a real privilege, so to receive an OBE is such an honour. I am grateful to everyone in the ambulance service for the way they deliver excellent patient care across the region.”

Baroness Watkins of Tavistock, a Non-Executive Director at South Western Ambulance Service, added: “I am delighted that Heather has been recognised with a New Year honour. Heather is well regarded in the ambulance community and her hard work and influence has improved partnerships and relationships across the health and social services, raising awareness of local needs and improving ambulance responses, particularly in more rural and challenging areas.”

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