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BRI staff recognised in Queen’s New Year Honours list

Last updated: 31/12/2020

Two members of staff at University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trust (UHBW) have been recognised with awards in the Queen’s New Year Honours list.

Dr Phil Cowburn, a consultant in emergency medicine, has been awarded an MBE and Ema Swingwood, a respiratory physiotherapist, has been honoured with an OBE.

Dr Phil Cowburn MBE
Dr Phil Cowburn

Phil, who is also a consultant at Great Western Air Ambulance Charity, the acute care medical director for South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust, and consultant trauma team leader at North Bristol NHS Trust, has been honoured for services to pre-hospital care, particularly during the response to COVID-19.

He jointly led a successful pilot during the first COVID-19 surge on a new critical care transfer service. The pilot took place in April and successfully and safely transferred 35 critically ill and injured patients across the Severn region in the south west to specialist centres for treatment and specialist intensive care. The success of the pilot led to the launch in November of Retrieve, the new South West Adult Critical Care Transfer Service, which is one of the first of its kind in the country.

Phil, who is in his early 50s and lives in Gloucestershire, also set up a trauma and resuscitation advice line for the ambulance service so that staff could talk to an appropriate clinician over the phone to help manage patients suffering trauma.

He has also been instrumental in rolling out training, resources and best practice to help ambulance staff in the south west develop their careers. He led on training packages for critical care and advanced skills for the hazardous area response team and has also supported the roll-out of other training packages in the region.

Phil, who has worked at the Bristol Royal Infirmary (BRI) as a consultant in emergency medicine since 2008, said: “I feel very honoured to have received an MBE but I see what I’ve done as being a very collaborative effort and I couldn’t have achieved any of this without the support of great colleagues in each of the organisations where I work.”

Ema, who has been a respiratory physiotherapist at the BRI for nine years, has been honoured for services to physiotherapy.

Ema Swingwood OBE
Ema Swingwood

She is respiratory pathway lead at UHBW, the physiotherapy lead at NHS Nightingale Bristol and chair of the ACPRC (The Association of Chartered Physiotherapists in Respiratory Care).

Ema, aged 39, delayed the start of an NIHR Clinical Doctoral Research Fellowship PhD at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic to carry on working in a clinical support role, as well as becoming the physio lead at NHS Nightingale Bristol.

She has also worked with Public Health England to develop guidelines and recommendations for physiotherapist interventions during COVID-19.

As chair of the ACPRC Ema, together with colleagues, has ensured that resources and support have been accessible to all, making their resources open access and developing a regular series of online resources including webinars.

Ema, who lives in Gwent in Wales and started her PhD at the University of the West of England (UWE) in September, said: “I couldn’t believe it when I was notified about the OBE. Although this is a personal award, I see it as being collaborative and a team effort. I couldn’t have achieved any of this without the support and efforts of so many wonderful colleagues.”