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University named as one of UK’s top lifesavers thanks to paramedic training

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Published on 16 May 2019

University of Sunderland paramedics
University of Sunderland paramedics

The University of Sunderland has been named as one of the ‘Nation’s Lifesavers’ thanks to its high-level of paramedic training.

The Nation’s Lifesavers are the top 100 individuals or groups based in universities across the country whose work in saving lives and making a difference to health and wellbeing is proving successful.

They have been celebrated for the first time today as part of Universities UK’s MadeAtUni campaign, which brings to life the impact of universities on families, communities and wider society. 

And the University of Sunderland has been highlighted as one of the best in the UK for its training of paramedics. The nomination was made for the Diploma of Higher Education in Paramedic Practice.

Universities were invited to nominate an individual or group who has made a significant contribution to the nation’s health and wellbeing. Universities from Plymouth to Dundee submitted a nomination.

The Nation’s Lifesavers are battling diseases, tackling inequality, helping new parents and children enjoy the best start in life and supporting older people. In Mental Health Awareness Week, their stories show their huge contribution to improving our mental health and wellbeing.

Stories of the Nation’s Lifesavers highlight how the value of universities stretches far beyond the educational opportunities and economic impact they provide. Whether you attended university or not, the likelihood is that everyone has directly or indirectly benefited from medical advances or health and wellbeing developments pioneered at universities like Sunderland.

Mark Willis, Programme Leader for Paramedic Science and Out of Hospital Care at the University of Sunderland, said: “This accolade shows the significant dedication of the staff, students and placement partners at the University in developing a highly skilled, patient-centred workforce of the future.”

Professor Dame Janet Beer, President of Universities UK, said: “When people think of lifesavers they understandably tend to focus on the dedication and skill of our doctors, nurses, carers, and paramedics – many of whom are trained at universities. Every day, up and down the country, universities are also working on innovations to transform and save lives. Research taking place in universities is finding solutions to so many of the health and wellbeing issues we care about and the causes that matter.

“By proudly working in partnership with charities, the NHS and healthcare organisations, universities are responsible for some of our biggest health breakthroughs and in revolutionising the delivery of care.

“This campaign is a chance to bring to life the wonderful and often unexpected work going on every day in our universities and to celebrate some of the people working to make a life-changing difference to us all.”


Case study

A new generation of life-savers has entered the workforce after graduating from the University of Sunderland, helping to address the national shortage of paramedics.

The newly qualified paramedics were the first to have access to the university’s Living Lab with its interactive learning facilities and simulation equipment, when they started their studies in 2016.

The students were employed by North East Ambulance Service (NEAS), allowing them to balance studying with working their operational shifts, applying what they learned at university into real, life-saving situations.

Denise Bridge spent 10 years with the NEAS, first as an emergency care assistant and then as a technician. She said that she always had the confidence that a paramedic clinical lead was available to act as her “blanket of support”.

Now, after two years of hard work, she is part of the first cohort to qualify with a Paramedic Practice HE Diploma.

She said: “The course has been an incredible personal challenge, balancing a full-time job with my studies, and I’m relieved I’ve got through it. When I passed, I walked around in a daze thinking ‘I have done it’! This is not the type of career you can do unless you love it.”

Steve Merrifield is also looking to put his learning to the test, having completed his two years of study.

He said: “It has been intense but definitely worth it. Working long shifts then coping with the study takes organisation but we’ve all had incredible support from the University and the North East Ambulance Service.

“The lectures have been really easy to access and we’ve been looked after all the way.”