Air ambulance co-founder recognised in New Year’s honours

January 25 2021

Air ambulance co-founder recognised in New Year’s honours

Dr Philip Cowburn, co-founder of the Great Western Air Ambulance Service (GWAAC) and consultant in emergency medicine at University Hospitals Bristol, has been awarded the MBE in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours List for his outstanding services to pre-hospital emergency care.
Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, Phil and GWAAC’s critical care team adapted and remained operational to respond to those in urgent need. During this time, Phil also collaborated with a wider team to help relieve pressure on the region’s hospitals by setting up the South West Critical Care Transfer Service – the first of its kind in England. Over a four-week period, the service transported 35 critically-ill patients between intensive care hospitals and has since won an award in The Excellence in Urgent and Emergency Care category of the NHS Parliamentary Awards 2020.
Dr Phil Cowburn said: “I am truly humbled by this recognition. To me this is not really a personal accolade, it is a celebration of the great teams I work with. None of the great achievements could have succeeded without the superb group of colleagues I have the pleasure of working alongside.”
Phil was fundamental in setting up the air ambulance charity in 2007, where he joined Professor Jonathan Benger, founding clinical director, trustee and critical care doctor for GWAAC, to begin delivering the critical care service to those in need across the region.
He has been integral to the air ambulance charity’s development, putting GWAAC at the forefront of advances in critical care. Phil has worked to develop the specialist paramedic role to ensure that critically-ill patients receive the highest level of specialist care from the team, and rolled this out across other South West air ambulances. He has developed career paths and advanced pre-hospital emergency medicine across the charity and further afield.
The air ambulance service has gone from "strength to strength" since it was launched in 2007 and now has a charity shop in Westbury village to help with fundraising. The charity treats five seriously injured patients each day in Bristol and the surrounding region.
Great Western Air Ambulance Charity CEO, Anna Perry, said: “I am delighted Phil has been recognised for his outstanding and extensive contribution to Pre-Hospital Emergency Care. We are extremely proud that Phil has been honoured with an MBE, and I would like to thank him for his inspirational efforts and congratulate him on his thoroughly deserved award.
“Phil is a humble person, and feels he only achieves what he does with the help of the whole critical care team at GWAAC. We value all our critical care coctors and specialist paramedics and know our service wouldn’t be possible without their time and dedication.”