Two Welsh Ambulance Service pioneers have been recognised in King Charles’ first New Year Honours List.

Edward O’Brian, Macmillan Paramedic and the Trust’s End of Life Care Lead, has been awarded the King’s Ambulance Service Medal for distinguished service, it was announced tonight.

Meanwhile Claire Bevan, the Trust’s former Executive Director of Quality and Nursing, has been awarded an OBE for services to nursing and patient care.

Chief Executive Jason Killens said: “We’re beyond thrilled that Edward and Claire have been recognised in the King’s first New Year Honours List.

“We’re incredibly proud of all colleagues who go that extra mile for patients and contribute to the development and progression of the ambulance service, at all levels.

“These awards recognise the hard work and dedication of some of our very best ambulance professionals, and I’d like to extend a huge congratulations to Edward and Claire.”

Edward began his ambulance career in 2002 as an Emergency Medical Technician at London Ambulance Service.

He joined the Welsh Ambulance Service in 2009 as a Paramedic and later held a Clinical Support Officer role before his appointment to the Macmillan Paramedic and End of Life Care Lead role in 2018.

Edward has led on a number of initiatives to improve the quality of care for patients at the end of life, including the recent appointment of the Trust’s first dedicated palliative care paramedics.

He developed the End of Life Care Rapid Transport Service which provides transport for terminally ill patients to their preferred place of death, as well as the ‘Wish Ambulance’ initiative which fulfils the last wish of patients at the end of life.

Under Edward’s guidance, the Welsh Ambulance Service was the first in the UK to introduce ‘Just in Case’ medications on its emergency vehicles, allowing paramedics to better manage the symptoms that may be experienced as terminally ill patients become more poorly.

Last year, the Trust also joined forces with Macmillan Cancer Support in Wales to improve training for ambulance crews so they can better recognise when a patient is nearing the end of life and better manage their symptoms to prevent avoidable hospital admissions.

Director of Paramedicine Andy Swinburn, who nominated Edward, said: “People associate the role of a paramedic with managing trauma patients or patients who’ve had a heart attack or stroke.

“Not many people realise that we also help patients approaching the end of their life due to an advanced illness, either with urgent symptom management or for a sudden deterioration.

“Edward has led a change in established national clinical practice by improving education, confidence and working across professional boundaries to build a network of support.

“He has brought passion, determination and tenacity to focus on improving the care we give to patients and their loved ones at the end of life, and it’s why his Ambulance Service Medal is so richly deserved.”

Meanwhile, Claire started her career as a Student Nurse in Cardiff in 1986 and worked for over a decade as a Senior Staff Nurse and Ward Sister in Cardiology.

She subsequently progressed through a number of senior management roles, including the Executive Director of Quality and Nursing role at the Welsh Ambulance Service, which she held until 2019.

During this time, Claire led the development of a Mental Health Improvement Plan and the subsequent creation of a Mental Health Team set up to improve the wellbeing of both patients and staff.

Claire’s leadership also enabled the development of a Falls Framework and Response Model designed to provide a holistic approach to falls, from prevention to minimising the risk of further harm caused by prolonged periods of time spent on the floor awaiting an ambulance.

Claire was an ambassador for nurses in the ambulance service, developing a nurse career pathway to modernise the role of nursing in an out-of-hospital environment.

Her passion for caring for people with dementia and supporting their families also meant the Trust was named the Dementia Friendly Organisation of the Year by the Alzheimer’s Society in 2018.

Claire is currently the Chair of the Older People's Commissioner for Wales’ Audit and Risk Assurance Committee.

Wendy Herbert, the Trust’s Assistant Director of Quality and Nursing, said: “During her time at the Welsh Ambulance Service, Claire’s leadership was transformational and had a positive effect for patients, their families and staff.

“Claire has demonstrated exceptional nursing practice and leadership within NHS Wales for over 30 years, creating a culture of inspirational and authentic leadership which is motivational and supportive for staff and patients.

“She leaves a lasting impression with her endless energy, drive and commitment to patient care and experience.”

The New Year Honours List marks the incredible public service of individuals from across the UK.

Recipients in the King’s first New Year Honours List, of which there are of 1,107, have been awarded for their outstanding contributions across all parts of the UK for their work on areas including sustained public service, youth engagement and community work.