Since 1977, national charity The British Association for Immediate Care has championed the development of pre-hospital care through research, education and professional support to professionals working within the field.

The association’s presence is well known. It has over 900 members who vary in their day-to-day roles and responsibilities from paramedics and nurses to doctors and other PHEC (pre-hospital emergency care) professionals.

Acting as volunteers and often part of local immediate care schemes, its members are regularly the first emergency responders to attend an incident scene where they provide life-saving care to those involved as well as additional expertise to ambulance services and other pre-hospital care intermediaries on scene.

The association’s annual Pre-Hospital Emergency Care Conference took place over two days in October and had an impressive programme of keynote speakers and discussion forums. Members and PHEC professionals shared examples of best practice in pre-hospital care and the conference covered some of the key challenges affecting the profession, including sleep deprivation, diversity and equality, and the need for stronger relationships between PHEC professionals and the emergency department.

Embracing some of these challenges and leading the British Association for Immediate Care in to 2020 is Paul Gates, who has been elected as Chairman of the trustees following three years as Honorary Secretary.

Currently a Consultant Paramedic at London Ambulance Service and Chair of the British Association for Immediate Care’s Essex scheme, Paul brings over 25 years of knowledge and experience to the role and is mindful of the challenges ahead.

What interested you in the role of Chairman of the British Association for Immediate Care? 

What excites me most about the role is being able to use my personal and professional experience to lead, influence, inspire and support our members and the PHEC community.

What skills and experience do you bring to the role?

I would like to think that my extensive experience in senior leadership roles within the Ambulance Service, my experience of launching and chairing a local Essex Pre-Hospital Emergency Care scheme and my clinical experience as a Senior Paramedic has provided me with a lot of knowledge that I can bring to the role.

I know first-hand the challenges that hard-working PHEC professionals face through balancing day-to-day roles and volunteering, the need for continuous professional development to stay competent within their roles and the difficulties for funding and managing local immediate care schemes.

The knowledge of the issues that our profession faces, combined with my operational and leadership background, give me a good grounding and will allow me to set the vision for the association moving forward.

How will the association address the changing PHEC landscape and some of the challenges highlighted at your annual conference?

I have seen the role and need of PHEC professionals change throughout the years as incidents become more complex and a wider skills mix is needed to deliver immediate care.  I’m looking forward to representing this important community through my role within the association.

Our latest conference touched on some key topics within pre-hospital care such as the need for greater diversity within the profession, better relationships with local ambulance services and the emergency departments and the need to look at shift patterns to prevent sleep deprivation.

Whilst we can’t fix these issues alone, we can act as the voice of our members and through building better relationships and using our annual conference as a platform, we can get the pre-hospital care community thinking and working together to find practical solutions.

What can your members and pre-hospital care professionals expect to see from the association in 2020?

Over the past couple of years, we have been working on a strategic piece of work that will see us build stronger relationships and increase our support to the benefit of our members, local schemes and wider PHEC professionals.

Education is key to our plans for 2020, both for our existing membership and in tackling the skills gap which exists in wider pre-hospital care.

We are currently updating our suite of education courses which will be run more frequently in 2020 and we have big plans to improve next year’s conference, which will take place at the Chesford Grange Hotel on the 1st and 2nd October.

We will also be offering additional benefits both for our members and local immediate care schemes, which will include additional grants / bursaries for research and equipment and discounts on PHEC equipment and insurance.

By developing the association, we hope to gain visibility, understanding and contribution both for the association and each one of our members who are providing excellent pre-hospital care.

Tony Kemp, Immediate Past Chairman of the British Association for Immediate Care, said “It is with great honour that I hand the reigns of Chair over to Paul, who I have worked closely with over the past three of years on a strategic and transformative piece of work for the benefit of our members. As an association that is represented by its members and the PHEC community, it is important that we adapt to the ever-changing landscape of pre-hospital care and I’m confident that Paul has the skills, knowledge and experience to deliver these changes and drive the association moving forward.”

To find out more about The British Association for Immediate Care, visit

Photo caption: British Association for Immediate Care Senior Management Team (Left to right) Rowley Cottingham, Honorary Treasurer, James Hickman MBE, Past Chairman, Paul Gates, newly appointed Chairman, Tony Kemp MBE, Immediate Past Chairman, Andrew Pountney, Vice-Chair

Photo caption: British Association for Immediate Care’s 2019 annual conference