First Advanced Practitioner in Critical Care appointed in newly developed role for the South West

Great Western Air Ambulance Charity (GWAAC) has appointed Vicki Brown as an Advanced Practitioner in Critical Care (APCC) to their unit, in what is the first of its kind within the pre-hospital critical care environment.

The role has been recently developed and approved as a career pathway by the South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT).

Specialist Lead for Enhanced and Critical Care at SWASFT, and former GWAAC Specialist Paramedic in Critical Care (SPCC), Christian Wiggin, developed the career framework for paramedics, with a particular focus on enhancing the role of SPCCs.

The role will benefit GWAAC’s Critical Care Team and the patients they treat, helping GWAAC to remain at the forefront of clinical interventions, continuously improve patient care, provide leadership in governance and education and assist the progression of GWAAC crew.

Vicki, who has been a SPCC at GWAAC since 2012, and more recently seconded to the role of acting Air Operations Officer, was the first SPCC to be eligible to apply for the new role.

Vicki said, “I have been keen to develop myself ever since joining the ambulance service, and so have been pushing boundaries to further paramedic practice. This new role is something I have been working towards for a while and we now have a position that recognises advanced practice within the service. It is great to be helping develop paramedic practice to provide career progression in the pre-hospital setting.”

To qualify for the role, Vicki had to have a minimum of three years working in Critical Care, two of which in a Pre-Hospital Critical Care Team, which she has fulfilled at GWAAC. She also needed a Diploma in Immediate Medical Care, a completed Non-Medical Prescribing qualification (Vicki was one of the first to do so in 2019), and an MSc in Advanced Practice, all before submitting an extensive portfolio, completing an APCC clinical examination, assessment day and a final interview.

Vicki passed her assessments in February and was successfully appointed as an Advanced Practitioner in Critical Care at GWAAC in May. She will be the paramedic clinical lead, working closely with GWAAC’s Lead Doctor, and responsible for clinical governance, education, training and research, and will mentor trainee SPCCs and Pre-Hospital Emergency Medicine trainees. This role will provide additional decision making and leadership capacity for the 30 strong clinical crew.

John Wood, Air Operations Officer and Specialist Paramedic in Critical Care at GWAAC, said, “We are delighted to appoint Vicki as our first Advanced Practitioner in Critical Care to the team. Vicki is to be congratulated on her achievement and we look forward to continuing to ensure GWAAC remain as leaders in the development of paramedic practice and delivery of high end critical care.”

Christian Wiggin, Specialist Lead for Enhanced and Critical Care at SWASFT, said, “The new role of ‘Advanced Practitioner in Critical Care’ (APCC) within SWASFT is unique. It is the first truly clinical band 8a role in Pre-Hospital Critical Care in the region and quite possibly the country. The role is mapped to Health Education England Advanced Practice standards and equates as a Skills for Health Level 7 Practitioner. The role is new and plans to develop the capabilities even further are in progress. On her final assessment Vicki’s performance was described as a ‘Demonstration of Mastery’ by the examining faculty which comprised of Consultant clinicians in Pre-Hospital Care, Emergency Medicine and Intensive Care. Great Western Air Ambulance Charity and SWASFT should be proud to have Vicki in place as the first fully qualified APCC in the South West.”