North East Ambulance Service – Spotlight on Inclusion and Belonging Initiatives

North East Ambulance Service (NEAS) NHS Foundation Trust is an NHS emergency health care provider that offers 999, 111, and patient transport services to people in North East England.

They have more than 2,900 employees and cover a large geographical area that supports 2.7 million people.


The Service’s work surrounding the diversity and inclusion agenda has highlighted a need for the organisation to get people on board. This has required NEAS to engage staff, stakeholders, and communities. Doing this on a limited budget with a small team, during a pandemic, while working agile, has been a huge challenge.

Their approach to diversity was to have something that everyone could get involved in. NEAS wanted to move people from supporting diversity to actively doing something. To do this, they needed to implement a range of initiatives to help people make the transition in a way that suited them.

Innovative actions

NEAS consulted with staff before introducing an extensive menu of options to raise awareness and provide support to improve inclusion. Options included small tasks (such as reading a short daily brief) and more substantial commitments (like becoming an active ally or getting involved in a staff network).

Evidence of impact

The organisation’s willingness and ability to be responsive to individuals’ needs across the NEAS workforce has generated several benefits, including:

Improved engagement with service users who were previously underrepresented. For example:

  • 267 specific targeted COVID-19 vaccine messages (by way of Trust social media channels) were sent to people with specific communication needs or who were more likely to be affected by the pandemic.
  • 82 CPR awareness sessions were delivered in Black, Asian, and other minority ethnic communities.
  • 3,000 more Black, Asian, and other minority ethnic people accessed the 111 service.
  • 36 community ambassadors were recruited, trained, and went to work in regional communities.
  • 290 more survey responses were received from people from Black, Asian, and other minority ethnic communities.
  • Satisfaction rates increased to 80% (for 111 services) and 89% (for 999 services).

Improved workforce diversity in the form of:

  • Appointing over 25% more people from underrepresented communities (disabled, LGBTQ+, Black, Asian, and other minority ethnic communities) to roles at NEAS (compared to the previous year).
  • Employing a higher number of Black, Asian, and other minority ethnic staff members at the Trust.
  • Improving Workforce Disability Equality Standard (WDES) data to illustrate how disabled people were as likely to be appointed as non-disabled people.
  • Showing better representation of women (in the second, third, and fourth quartiles) and improving gender pay differentials slightly in favour of women for the first time.

Increased staff engagement and support resulting in:

  • 107 newly trained inclusion allies in the Trust.
  • 208 people taking part in the living libraries session.
  • 19 newly trained hate crime champions to provide support.
  • 48 new employee network members.
  • Employee network chairs and vice chairs were given protected staff time (two days per month).

The information contained within this resource was accurate at the time of its publication and subsequent revision. This article was created in 2021 and revised in April 2022.

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