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Meet Sarah Ross: Paramedic and Clinical Lead and Contact Centre Manager for London NHS 111



Sarah Ross’s journey to becoming a paramedic is as unique as it is inspiring. Growing up around the local A&E department, Sarah spent much of her time with ambulance crews due to her mother’s work as an A&E sister. “I was always intrigued with what they did but never pursued it initially,” Sarah recalls. Surprisingly, she started her career as a graphic designer and later moved into hotel management. But her passion for medical work eventually led her to the world of paramedicine. “Yearning to get into a medical job, and too lazy to go to med school and train as a doctor, paramedic training seemed like a good compromise.”


Sarah's transition into the NHS 111 service has been marked by an evolution of her role from clinical advisor to Clinical Lead and Contact Centre Manager. She notes, “Nowadays my role is very different. I am more involved with patient safety, risk, and quality of the service I run. I don’t routinely take calls but have been known to get stuck in when we have IT issues.”


Her extensive experience as a paramedic has equipped her with invaluable skills that continue to enhance patient care within NHS 111. “Paramedics are masters of all trades to a certain extent,” she explains. “For me, this is a solid foundation of experience to bring to the IUC table.” Her ability to explain the nuances of ambulance calls to Clinical Advisors (CAs) and her knack for diffusing difficult situations have significantly benefited the service. “Callers and complainants that are far from happy are almost always settled and reasonable by the time I have finished speaking with them.”


Collaboration is key in Sarah's work. She emphasises the importance of finding common ground and respecting the diverse backgrounds of her colleagues. “Everyone brings value to the table, and this multidisciplinary approach ensures our patients receive the best possible care. Sharing knowledge is one of the greatest gifts, and I positively promote this wherever I can.”


Despite the rewards, Sarah acknowledges the challenges of her role, particularly clinician recruitment and managing patient safety during peak times. “Our recruitment is ongoing, and we are beginning to see a small glimmer of light at the end of a long, dark tunnel. This will see our clinical queues reduce and our patients dealt with more quickly, both of which are our biggest risks.”


What keeps Sarah going through the high-pressure environment? “Humour for me is key, as is being able to debrief in a safe space when needed. It’s really ok to not be ok, and recognising when we aren’t and seeking support is halfway to overcoming it.”


Sarah’s career development is a testament to her dedication and adaptability. From starting as a Clinical Advisor to becoming a Clinical Lead and Contact Centre Manager, she exemplifies professional growth. “If you had asked me years ago if I would be running a contact centre, I would’ve laughed out loud. Joining NHS 111 has given me more scope and opportunity than I envisaged.”


To stay updated with advancements in paramedicine, Sarah reads extensively, connects with frontline friends, and continually discusses patient care. Her future goals include enhancing clinical learning and training within NHS 111 and expanding the roles of CAs into other business areas.


On a personal note, Sarah reflects on how being a paramedic has shaped her. “It has made me grounded, given me skills that keep me calm in a crisis, taught me humility, and provided many good memories.” Her advice to those considering a career in paramedicine? “Do it! It is the most rewarding profession. It’s hard work but such a privileged role.”


Balancing the demanding nature of her job with personal wellbeing is crucial for Sarah. “Learn to recognise when you need to step back and take a moment. You cannot look after others if you are not looking after yourself.”


Sarah Ross’s journey is a powerful reminder of the critical role paramedics play in integrated urgent care, shaping services with their expertise, compassion, and resilience.

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