15 Dec 2021

Mark Thorburn standing by the PRU car

Chief Petty Officer Naval Nurse (CPONN), Mark Thorburn, is the first military nurse to sign-off with the Physician Response Unit (PRU).

Mark had to complete a gruelling training course in partnership with London’s Air Ambulance Charity, Barts NHS Health Trust and The Institute of Pre-Hospital Care to work with the clinical team that bring the Emergency Department to patients in North East London. The partner organisations involved will now be looking to roll out the secondment more widely following its success.

A pioneer of Community Emergency Medicine (CEM), the PRU responds to 999 calls, treating patients in their homes who would otherwise have often required an ambulance transfer to hospital. In doing so, it provides definitive clinical assessment and management whilst harnessing the unique opportunity to see patients in the community - often in their own homes with insight into any challenges related to support networks, daily activities and access to services - to deliver urgent and emergency care which is holistic and accurately matches their needs. In the majority of cases, the PRU’s interventions mean that patients are able to stay in their community and do not have to go to hospital, helping to free up hospital beds and reduce risks for vulnerable patients by avoiding a trip to hospital.

London's Air Ambulance Charity, Barts NHS Health Trust and The Institute of Pre-Hospital Care have a long-established history of supporting military clinicians in their preparation for operational duties whilst deployed. 

As well as signing off with the PRU, Mark also completed the Community Emergency Medicine Course and Pre-Hospital Care Course (PHCC). Both programmes are highly renowned, taught by experienced doctors and paramedics from London’s Air Ambulance Charity and designed to test teamwork, scene management skills, clinical excellence and the endurance of each participant. The courses are run by the Institute of Pre-Hospital Care, and aim to test all participants to the maximum, equipping them with the shareable knowledge that will help to save more lives.

These courses provided a fantastic learning environment in which to gain pre-hospital exposure and will undoubtedly lead to improved care delivery when I'm next deployed.

It has been a huge privilege to lead this pilot secondment between PRU and Defence Nursing, and it is hoped this is only the beginning of a long-lasting collaboration between our organisations. Having seen the exemplary care that PRU delivers, and the enormous impact this has on the patients we treat, this will shape my future clinical practice well beyond my time with PRU.
CPONN Mark Thorburn

Head of Naval Nursing Service, Captain Neale Piper ARRC QHNS, said: "All of the QARNNS are justly proud of Mark's achievements, both in pre-hospital care and as a standard-bearer for the service.

"Whilst a huge individual undertaking to achieve, I am also grateful for the support of colleagues within DMA, RCDM, UHNM, PRU and EMRTS who have been integral throughout his development as an Advanced Care Practitioner. Mark is the first, others will hopefully follow in order to meet the needs of a global Royal Navy as we look to expand this expertise."

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