New manager makes final of national emergency services Control Room Awards

5th May 2021

A WELSH Ambulance Service manager has made the finals of the Control Room Awards after being nominated by his own staff in the ‘Leader of the Year’ category.

Nathan Hughes, 32, from Bridgend, is the Trust’s Medical Priority Despatch System (MPDS) manager based in Cwmbran, and remarkably has only been in his management position for six months.

Having been at the Welsh Ambulance Service since 2013, starting as an emergency call taker and then in an auditor’s role, Nathan was left aghast when he opened the email informing him he had been selected as one of three finalists from over 500 nominations.

“I couldn’t believe it when I read it,” he said

“I was shocked, surprised, but most of all honoured that colleagues had that much faith in me that they went out there way to nominate me for this award.

“What makes it even more special is that we’re up against colleagues from all emergency services around the UK, all of whom have had a horrendously hard time this year.

“Every service has faced enormous challenges this year, so to make the shortlist this year is really special.”

When questioned on how he has adapted to management and why he feels his colleagues put him forward, Nathan said: “First thing I did was to have one-to-ones with all my staff as I wanted to get to know them and find out what makes them tick and apply that to help them feel more comfortable in their role.

“I make sure I’m very approachable and make time for everybody, even if I’ve got a flat-out calendar, I just make sure I’m available to talk to anyone.

“I’ve had to learn very quickly with the circumstances we find ourselves in due to Covid.

“In some ways it was a difficult time to step into management, but also the best time because there was so much going on I had to learn very quickly.

“I found it a tough but beneficial way to start.”

Nathan’s role as an MPDS manager involves overseeing the performance of the Welsh Ambulance Service’s call handlers, ensuring they make the right decisions, as well as providing training.

Last year when the Covid-19 pandemic struck and to help meet the demand placed on the service, Nathan led the training of a large group of newly-recruited call handlers in North Wales.

“I stayed away from my family for two weeks, living in a caravan in Rhyl and travelling the length of Wales four times in a month,” he said.

“We needed to make sure we got them up and running quickly.

“It’s something I’m very proud of.”

Emily Lewis an MPDS Auditor and colleague of Nathan’s said: “Nathan is always contactable and approachable and truly has our best interests at heart, both in terms of our work and our work-life balance.

“He takes the time to speak to us all as individuals and adapts his leadership style to ensure he is managing the individual team member as well as the team as a whole.

“Nothing is ever too much trouble for Nathan, no matter the problem he is always on hand to help, support and guide us.’’

In what has been an interesting working life so far, Nathan originally trained as a journalist, attending the then University of Glamorgan and eventually working for the Pontypridd Observer for a time.

Outside of work, Nathan is a qualified rugby union referee and pre-Covid regularly oversaw high-level junior matches.

He is also dedicated ‘Bluebird’ and enjoys following his beloved Cardiff City FC.

The APD Control Room Awards will take place virtually on the evening of May 14 and stand to celebrate the outstanding commitment, achievement and bravery of the international control room community.

Mike Isherwood, Managing Director of sponsors APD Communications, said: “Control room employees around the UK deal with extreme highs and lows.

“Fire, ambulance, police, and coast guard staff take thousands of calls like this a week.

“And whilst it may be their job, here at APD we think it is something worth recognising.”

Nathan will be watching the ceremony at home with his wife Mel.