Solution to industrial dispute is a ‘top priority’ for new GWAS interim CEO Martin Flaherty

Martin Flaherty, new interim Chief Executive of Great Western Ambulance Service (GWAS), is committed to continuing the progress made by the trust and its staff, and has pledged to work to resolve outstanding industrial relations issues.

Mr Flaherty joined GWAS on 7 February as a temporary replacement for David Whiting until a permanent chief executive is recruited, which is expected to take 6-9 months.

“I am delighted to have joined GWAS and am clear that the service has made significant improvements in recent years, not just in terms of important visible issues such as response times and clinical standards, but also in the way it administers itself – becoming a far more robust, sustainable organisation. I am looking forward to getting out and about to meet managers and staff across the organisation as much as possible during the coming weeks.” said Mr Flaherty.

“By working with staff throughout the organisation and with external partners I hope to build on that progress, while keeping the focus firmly on benefiting the hundreds of patients we see every day.

“To that end, working closely with trade union colleagues to find a solution to the current industrial dispute is clearly a top priority as nobody wants to see standards of patient care affected by industrial action. I have a long history of working with trade unions in partnership to solve problems and move things forward in a way that benefits both patients and staff.”

Martin has worked in ambulance services for some 33 years and his substantive role is Deputy Chief Executive of the London Ambulance Service. Most recently he has been seconded to work with the Irish Ambulance Service initially as Interim Chief Executive and then strategic ambulance advisor to the Irish Health Services Executive.

David Whiting left GWAS at the end of January to become Chief Executive of Yorkshire Ambulance Service. He joined GWAS in April 2009.

About Great Western Ambulance Service

Great Western Ambulance Service NHS Trust provides emergency and urgent care, and patient transport services across Wiltshire, Gloucestershire and the former Avon. The trust employs more than 1,680 staff across 33 operational sites – 30 ambulance stations and three emergency operations centres – and in its headquarters. Last year (2009-10), GWAS responded to more than 256,000 emergency calls. The trust covers an area of 3,000 square miles with a population of over 2.3 million people.