The ambulance service has played a pivotal role in the nation’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. The surge in coronavirus-related demand was felt acutely by ambulance trusts at the start of the outbreak, with pressure increasing rapidly on 999 and NHS 111 services. Ambulance trust leaders were immediately focused on ensuring their services were resilient and able to provide the same level of care for patients while also protecting and caring for their staff.

As the health and care sector moves firmly to management of a second wave of the disease, it is timely to look at trust leaders’ reflections on the first wave. Over the summer we heard from Heather Lawrence OBE, chair of the London Ambulance Service, about the importance of supporting staff during these extremely challenging times. This continues to be a primary focus for trust leaders.

The ambulance sector has also been busy identifying lessons from the pandemic and AACE has been working with trusts to collate examples of what has gone well and what innovations need to be sustained. As the following conversation shows, the ambulance service is uniquely positioned to offer a joined-up perspective at a regional level to identify successes and the challenges that lie ahead as we approach winter and in longer term planning around the future shape of healthcare services.