A Day in the Life of Chris Ackerman: AD of eProcure

February 9, 2021
Chris Ackerman, Associate Director of eProcure and patient transport at 365 Response

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Our ‘Day in the Life of’ series will focus on a new team member every month. They’ll discuss their duties, what it’s like to work here, how many teas they drink, and everything else in-between. We hope you enjoy learning more about the people behind the software – one delightful blog at a time!

This time we sat down with Chris Ackerman, Associate Director of eProcure here at 365 Response, who is responsible for managing the operations of the call handling services for our 24/7 mental health booking line, as well as the procurement of non-emergency patient transport for the NHS. Chris is an experienced professional with a vast amount of experience in forecasting, planning, demand and workforce management, making him an incredible asset to the team. If you ask him for a brief description of his role, he’d grin and say, “heading up 2 huge and important teams,” so he’s exceptionally modest as well. You can read all about him below!

What experiences led you to this role?

Chris has been with the company for 6 months, but his work has already made quite the impact. He has a wealth of public and private sector experience, including many years of working with Sarah Fatchett, Founder and CEO of 365 Response, who he met over 12 years ago at the Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust. Their time together was spent managing the daunting work that came through the Gold Command Cell, such as navigating train or plane crashes. Chris also boasts over a decade working at Software Enterprises Ltd (acquired by Totalmobile in 2020) as the Global Head of Software on their Global Rostering System (GRS), an experience that saw him work with every ambulance trust in the UK as well as the Ministry of Defence. Combined, his experiences have made him the perfect candidate for the demanding, but rewarding work we receive, such as working with NHS England, aiding the National ECMO service and both the neonatal and paediatric transport services for organisations like CenTre, to ensure the safe and efficient transport of patients from their local hospital to specialist care centres.

Why 365 Response?

The 365 Response eProcure platform provides an end-to-end digital solution for securely procuring, managing and booking various forms of passenger transport. Our purpose is to continue “making difficult transport easy,” by remembering our company values and by providing the balance between transport providers, organisers, and users. The eProcure system provides an approved network of suppliers that become active, in real time, through our digital marketplace – the first of its kind. This innovative network is free for NHS organisations to use and supports patient flow, adult social care, mental health transfers, GP urgent bookings and hospital discharges. When I asked Chris for his reasons for joining the company, he shared:

“I’ve known Sarah for many years and there was great synergy with the work we did, so when the opportunity to work together came along, it was a very easy decision to make. We offer valuable software as a service to NHS organisations and Local Authorities. Joining 365 Response was the start of a new adventure for me because I could clearly play a huge part in driving the business forward. We share many of the same values, so I was proud to join 365 Response.”

Working with the eProcure and Call Handling Teams

Chris manages the Specialist Call Handling Team, who work on behalf of NHS England to facilitate the safe movement of critically ill patients between hospitals. Speaking about the dynamics within his teams, which have been able to grow significantly in just 6 months, Chris shared:

“They’re all amazing. Great team players and really friendly. Our team in Leicester do a wonderful job of dealing with really tough calls, and I believe it takes a special type of person to navigate those distressing situations in such a professional and supportive way. I’m proud of them all. They’ve handled Covid, the new variant and winter pressures incredibly well. Even when the demand for our services increased, both the call handling and the eProcure team continued to deliver excellent support.”

365 Response Projects

Chris has worked on a number of improvement and expansion projects in his short time at 365 Response, making a considerable impact on the wider business and our customers. Most recently he has introduced a new IUT Pathway to our Specialist Transport Call Handling Service and he has expanded our Mental Health Transport services to be 24/7. He discussed some of the benefits of these projects:

“The work we do is extremely rewarding. The demand on Mental health services is huge now. We are taking people from places like the South Coast up to Manchester, completing journeys that these organisations wouldn’t be able to complete as easily without us. It is cost efficient and frees up valuable time for healthcare workers to focus on other things. We take away all of the paperwork and sourcing duties for them. As a direct result, our work helps reduce bed blocking in hospitals. By creating more transport opportunities, and by managing the journeys and ETA of vehicles, we can keep both the patient and the crew informed at all times, which is wonderful.”

Plans for 2021

365 Response is an innovative software company that prides itself on “always learning,” and pushing the boundaries of effective transport for all. As a company, we intend to hire additional staff with talents that aid in business growth, add to our collective knowledge bank of industry professionals, and help ensure we are able to provide the necessary and reliable services our clients deserve. Looking at the year ahead, Chris shared his plans for the current year:

“Big plans! I want to introduce the eProcure team into Councils, everything from SEND to social care. Huge plans to expand the call centres, get every private provider onto the framework, and by the end of the year I want my team to have doubled in size again! I also promised the entire team a meal out to Five Guys when Covid stops getting in the way, so that’s in the calendar too.”

Logging Off

The work the eProcure and call handling team manage often means that logging off isn’t entirely possible. They provide an around the clock service that plays a vital part in maintaining access to critical healthcare transport services. “Do something good every day,” is an important value for us at 365 Response, so I asked Chris what he does for himself or the team whenever they find a moment to relax:

“The 24/7 services we provide means that my phone is always ringing, so there isn’t much time for TV and things, which is fine with me. I don’t watch much, and I hate reading, which upsets our Chief Commercial Officer, Brendan a great deal! I offer agile and flexible working arrangements for all of my staff because the work they do means they don’t often get many breaks, so I want them to know that I understand and respect that they might need to enjoy a little breathing time in between calls. Every Friday we have a team quiz to try and ease into the weekend, although I’m not very good at them! The last two focused on Disney and baking facts, so I was lost. If I’ve found some time for myself, then I’ve cooked a nice meal, poured a glass of wine, and immediately start vegging out on the sofa. Easy.”

You can read our previous a Day in the Life of Blog here…