North East Ambulance Service – Spotlight on Employee Network Group of the Year

The North East Ambulance Service (NEAS) is an NHS Foundation Trust with approximately 3,000 employees.


NEAS recognised that colleagues with disabilities encountered various challenges when seeking support in the workplace. There was a notable absence of representation for these issues, leaving colleagues without a platform to engage in conversations and address key concerns.

Innovative actions

The organisation addressed challenges for colleagues with disabilities by establishing the Able@NEAS disability network, engaging across service lines. Key achievements include appointing Trauma Risk Incident Management (TRIM) counsellors, assigning hate crime and equality, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) champions, developing support groups for cancer survivors and dyslexic individuals, and providing guidance for dyslexic managers.

The network facilitated internal system changes for accessibility, introduced a Health and Carers passport, actively participated in Disability History Month plans, offered reasonable adjustment support, initiated assistance dog training, influenced agile working policies, led Dyslexia Smart Award accreditation, and engaged in inclusive recruitment efforts. Serving as advocates, the group is a valuable knowledge resource and a primary contact for disabled individuals.

Evidence of Impact

The implementation of Able@NEAS has increased disabled employee representation from 6.5% to 7.8%, and an 8.5% rise in applicants and shortlisted candidates. Having 12.9% of appointed individuals declaring a disability underscores the organisation’s commitment to leveraging the strengths of disabled individuals.

Thirty-two individuals have received support through the network, showcasing a commitment to diverse needs. Additionally, 268 participants engaged in living library sessions covering disability-related subjects such as HIV and Aids, World Day of the Deaf, Imposter Syndrome, and World Autism Day.

Two systems have been enhanced for dyslexic staff, incorporating improved formats, fonts, colour contrasts, and text-to-speech functionality. The group’s successful integration into the organisation’s governance structure highlights a sustained commitment to inclusivity.

The information contained within this resource was accurate at the time of its publication. This article was created in January 2024.

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