South Central Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SCAS) Chief Executive, Will Hancock, has announced he will step down next year after 17 years in charge.
He has said the early announcement will enable the Trust to begin an open recruitment process and ensure a smooth transition of leadership given the recent launch of a new five-year strategy and vision.
In June 2006, Mr Hancock led the merger of the four ambulance services covering Hampshire, Oxfordshire, Berkshire and Buckinghamshire which established SCAS and has remained at the helm of the organisation, achieving Foundation Trust status in 2012.
During this time SCAS has transformed from a traditional emergency ambulance service to a modern healthcare provider, navigating the right care for patients through 999, NHS 111 and non-emergency patient transport services.
With expansion into Surrey and Sussex to provide patient transport, SCAS now serves a population of six million people across the six counties and employs more than 4,000 staff who, together with over 1,000 volunteer community and co-responders, see the organisation attend more than 555,000 incidents via 999, handle 1.24 million calls to NHS 111 and make 866,000 patient transport service journeys every year.
As well as these core services, the Trust formed South Central Fleet Services Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of SCAS in 2015 to provide a dedicated fleet management and vehicle maintenance solution, relaunched South Central Ambulance Charity in 2018 and developed a pioneering healthcare consultancy initiative in India in 2020.
SCAS has also become a key partner of NHS England and Public Health England (now the UK Health Security Agency) by leading the National Pandemic Service which, most recently, has included the COVID Response Service, COVID-19 clinical assessment, vaccination booking and the COVID Pass among others.
Mr Hancock also leads on mental health and wellbeing, as well as diversity and inclusion, across the UK ambulance sector on behalf of the Association of Ambulance Chief Executives (AACE). He has led research and work in suicide prevention and the mental and physical wellbeing of ambulance staff and the paramedic profession.
In a message to staff at SCAS, he said:
“I am writing to let you know I will be leaving SCAS next year after 17 years of service. I am announcing this early so we can commence the process of openly recruiting a new chief executive with as much input from as many people as possible, and so that we have the time to secure the very best person to ensure a smooth transition of leadership.
“This is particularly important with SCAS at the start of a new and exciting five-year strategic journey, and I will of course continue to support you all in my role as CEO through this coming winter.
“It has been an honour and privilege to lead this amazing organisation and I am extremely grateful for all the support I had had from you and so many other incredible colleagues.
“We have seen so much change, growth and development over the years and I am very proud of the role SCAS has played as an innovator in the ambulance sector, as well as the significant relationships I have formed with colleagues and partners across the footprint and beyond on behalf of the organisation.”
He added: “In the meantime, there is much for us to focus on within the organisation as we continue to try to overcome the challenges exacerbated by the pandemic and the sustained levels of pressure seen across the Trust.
“On that note, I want to say a huge thank you to you all for your commitment and resilience having come through such a tough period and I am reassured every day that the fantastic people we haev around us here will ensure SCAS continues to thrive.”