Paramedic Mental Health and Wellbeing Steering Group Members

The Steering Group is supported by:

Liz Harris, Head of Professional Standards
Imogen Carter, Executive Officer

Tracy Nicholls, Chief Executive

Group Members

Dr Ursula Rolfe
College of Paramedics Mental Health Lead

Ursula started working in the UK in 2009 as a clinical tutor and training officer for South West Ambulance Service Foundation Trust and was seconded to teach on the FdSc Paramedic Science degree, which developed into a full time position as programme lead from 2012.
In 2015 Ursula moved to the University of Southampton to take the role of programme lead for MSc Trauma Sciences degree and was able to focus on PhD study: How paramedics manage and respond to patients experiencing mental health issues.
Ursula has an interest in mental health not only related to clinical experience but also to previous experiences as a trauma counsellor as well as her Psychology degree at under-graduate level. Ursula is hoping that her PhD will not only encourage other paramedics to start on their own research journey but that it will provide an evidence base for paramedics and support them in how they can manage mental health patients in the future.
Ursula is currently a Senior Lecturer at Bournemouth University.

David Davis
Head of Integrated Governance, South East Coast Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust 

David is currently employed as Head of Integrated Governance for 999 and 111 call centres at South East Coast Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust. Prior to this he worked as a consultant level paramedic in Clinical Informatics, working as Clinical Programme Lead for CTP in the Digital Urgent & Emergency Care team at NHS England; he led the joint NHS England & Health Education England NHS111 Workforce Development Programme, which, in Summer 2018, published a national Blueprint for the NHS111 and Integrated Urgent Care workforce in England.
Appointed as a Founding Fellow of the Faculty of Clinical Informatics, and presently studying with Imperial College as part of the NHS Digital Academy programme, David has worked as an AHP informatics national clinical lead within NHS England, the Department of Health and Health & Social Care Information Centre.
For a number of years, he represented the College of Paramedics at the NHS Pathways National Clinical Governance Group and the Emergency Call Prioritisation Group following. Formerly Chair of the Honours & Awards Committee, Stroke Lead, Parliamentary Lead and Director of Communications, David is a Fellow of the College of Paramedics.
As a spokesperson on mental health, he has given evidence at the Home Affairs Select Committee on behalf of the College of Paramedics around Mental Health Policing and is also a Peer Inspector and member of the mental health steering group for Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabularies and Fire & Rescue Services. 
He is part of the Editorial Board for the Journal of Paramedic Practice, member of the South East Coast Clinical Senate and still does frontline operational shifts on ambulances.

Chris Richmond
Innovation and Strategy Lead, NHS England Clinical Improvement

Chris is a paramedic and has worked in the NHS for 27 years, spending time as a lecturer in Advance Practice, and has worked in a number of national positions in NHS England. During his time at NHS England he has been the Mental Health Lead for NHS 111, worked on the design of new payment methods for the NHS and is now working in NHS England and Improvement, Improvement directorate testing and scaling innovations. In addition to this and throughout his career he has been passionate about the well-being of the Ambulance service workforce, and strives to ensure that Paramedics not only know the signs of Mental Health issues in others but also themselves. Outside of work he is also a Board Trustee for The Cellar Trust Charity in Bradford, helping them to provide vital support for people suffering from mental health issues.

Andrea James
Partner, Brabners

Andrea James is an English and Irish qualified solicitor and an expert in professional discipline and healthcare regulatory law. The main focus of her work is defending professionals at fitness to practise proceedings before their regulatory bodies, particularly paramedics before the Health & Care Professions Council.
Andrea has acted for the College of Paramedics since the inception of its fitness to practise insurance scheme in 2012 and has represented healthcare professionals experiencing every kind of adverse mental and physical health. She is particularly interested in the impact of fitness to practise proceedings upon the health of previously well registrants and how registrants can best be supported through what is often a long and arduous legal process.

Jo Mildenhall
Paramedic and Clinical Lead for Mental Health at SWAST

Since 1998, Jo has worked for SCAS in various roles such as Ambulance Technician, Paramedic, Clinical Mentor, Team Leader and TRiM Practitioner and Co-ordinator. Following her attendance at a rail disaster in 2004, she became interested in the psychological welfare of ambulance staff; particularly around stress and traumatic distress, noting that within the profession at the time, there was little understanding of the impact and effects that could manifest from attending such calls, particularly distressing incidents where emotional connections had been made with those involved. Jo has completed a Masters degree in Trauma Psychology at the University of Nottingham, for which her original qualitative research study explored paramedics’ experiences of attending distressing calls, and of the support they experienced/didn’t experience afterwards. Jo is also a qualified Integrative Therapeutic Counsellor.
In 2019, Jo was very fortunate to be awarded a Winston Churchill Memorial Trust research fellowship, enabling her to travel to Australia and New Zealand to practically research paramedic and ambulance staff mental wellbeing programmes, innovative support processes and learn from the latest international research studies.
Jo currently works as the Clinical Lead for Mental Health at SWAST and is undertaking a PhD at University of York. Her focused ethnographic research seeks to explore the psychosocial, emotional and relational impacts of traumatic incident exposure upon ambulance employees and ambulance organisations. Critically, this work seeks to further understand at depth the effects of attending distressing calls, and provide recommendations for future developments to enhance psychosocial education, care and support for individuals, organisations and the profession. In addition, Jo has spoken at a number of national and local conferences, and contributed research evidence to the Health Education England Pearson Commission 'NHS Staff & Learners Mental Wellbeing Report' (2019). She is the author of a number of staff mental health related publications and actively promotes paramedic/ambulance staff mental wellbeing research on social media.

Katie Pavoni
Paramedic and Course Director, Paramedic Science BSc, St George’s University of London

Katie leads the Mental Health module for the BSc in Paramedic Science. Katie is the Pastoral Care Lead for the Department of Paramedics and is committed to ensuring future clinicians’ emotional resilience and preparedness for practice.
In collaboration with the charity MIND, Katie has launched the first ‘Student Blue Light Champion’ Scheme in the country at St George’s. In addition, Katie is the Healthcare Professional Manager for the British Red Cross and their Safeguarding Lead for the Event First Aid & Ambulance Support sector.
Katie is also the National Lead Safeguarding Officer for the Samaritans.
Katie is currently undertaking an MSc in Advanced Practice (Mental Health) and is extremely passionate about the field of mental health and committed to challenging stigma and ensuring a culture of compassion, support and understanding amongst the paramedic profession.

Sasha Johnson
Research Paramedic

Sasha is a Research Paramedic who has worked in the UK and the Caribbean since 2002. She completed a PgCert in Advanced Practice and a HEE/NIHR funded Masters in Clinical Research, both with distinction.
Sasha is currently leading South Western Ambulance’s (SWASFT) arm of the NIHR funded ‘TIME’ (Take Home Naloxone) feasibility trial, which aims to reduce the risk of death among high-risk opiate users. Her own research focus’ on Ambulance staff mental health and wellbeing with an emphasis on organisational support and cultural change.
Sasha is a member of a number of working groups including being a founding member of the Bristol Thrive at Work task force.
Sasha is a confident public speaker and has spoken about ambulance staff wellbeing at a number of conferences as well as TV, radio and other media.
Sasha’s career achievements include becoming a Pride of Britain runner-up after spearheading a fundraising campaign raising 80k for a colleague’s cancer treatment and supporting SWASFT’s collaboration with Macmillan to improve prehospital end of life care.
Sasha’s future research hopes are to develop British Intelligence’s Mandatory Impact Monitoring initiative for the ambulance service.
Outside work Sasha loves being with her young family.

Bernice Hancox
Specialist Mental Health Paramedic, WMAS

Bernice enrolled on an MSc in Integrative Psychotherapy with The Sherwood Psychotherapy Training Institute in Nottingham in 2013. 5 years, 500 hours of Clinical Practice as a Trainee Therapist and a dissertation exploring Peritraumatic Dissociation in Emergency Service and Military Staff later she is due very soon to receive her Academic Qualification.
Bernice is extremely passionate about improving Mental Health and Wellbeing, and the discourse that surrounds the area in society as a whole. Her interest in supporting colleagues began when she joined the West Midlands Ambulance Service Staff Advice and Liaison Service in 2013 - which is a peer support team of volunteers.
Bernice now provides training to the team and looks forward to using this experience and expertise to support the College’s new team of Paramedic Peer Supporters. 

Jon Knight

Jon has been a paramedic since 2001 and has also studied and worked in mental health and Psychology since 2010. His own experience of PTSD prompted him to try to better understand this area both to help colleagues, patients and friends who experience similar symptoms, and to help to understand the triggers in his own life that led to difficulties experienced.
Jon has a Degree in Psychology and a post-grad certificate in Clinical Psychology.
Jon has worked in a broad range of psychologically based services including inpatient and community MH services, specialising in Borderline Personality Disorder and PTSD in young people and adults.
Jon is a trained Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT) facilitator, coach, and works from relational recovery and humanistic psychological perspectives.
Jon is hugely passionate about the psychological wellbeing of colleagues in the emergency services, and with first hand experience of how profoundly challenges with Mental Health can turn someone’s life around, Jon is keen to support and help colleagues with any difficulties they may encounter so that their experience of life and career is a happy one.

Andy Elwood

After 2 years in Northern Ireland Ambulance Service, Andy enjoyed an 18-year career as a Search & Rescue Winchman. He became a Paramedic in 2005. He served on MERT (Afghanistan rescue helicopter), built an AIDS/HIV hospice in Lesotho and has a Queen’s Commendation for Bravery in the Air. He completed his SAR career with a period leading Bristow Medical Standards in the Northern half of UKSAR.
Andy delivers Human Factors training to NHS clinicians and is focusing on work through his own company, which has delivered face-to-face and online medical training for responders treating civilian casualties in the Syrian crisis. He continues his mental health campaigning ( and is a Mental Health First Aid instructor. To break the stigma, educate and support colleagues in this area, he has discussed his own experiences by leading a workshop at the UKSAR National conference and writing a magazine article. #itsoktotalk