Professor Jonathan Benger receives CBE in New Year Honours

Great Western Air Ambulance Charity’s (GWAAC) founding Clinical Director, Trustee, and Critical Care Doctor, Professor Jonathan Benger, has been awarded a CBE in the Queen’s New Year Honours list.

Jonathan has received the award for his services to the NHS. In particular, for his services during the pandemic to NHS Digital.

As Chief Medical Officer for NHS Digital, Jonathan has overseen NHS Pathways, NHS111 online, the NHS.UK website and the NHS app. All of which have been central to the pandemic response — more than twenty million people are now using the NHS app.

Jonathan and his team have also been working hard at NHS Digital to promote a culture with a clinical emphasis. The idea being that everything has a clinical focus through its impact on patients.

Jonathan said: “We have an incredible team at NHS Digital, and I work with some fantastic people. Individuals are honoured with awards but of course it’s really a whole team effort and acknowledgement.”

In his previous role as National Clinical Director for Urgent Care at NHS England, Jonathan led several reforms of ambulance services and the wider emergency care system.

Jonathan, or JB as he is known to his colleagues, was instrumental in the setup of GWAAC, acting as their first medical advisor and promoting the active model of Pre-Hospital Critical Care. Jonathan still regularly completes shifts with us as he is one of the Critical Care Doctors, and is also a Trustee of the charity.

Back in 2007, Jonathan and Critical Care Doctor, Phil Cowburn, recognised the need for an air ambulance service in the counties of Avon and Gloucestershire to provide advanced medical support at the scene of an incident. They felt the service needed to be more than just an air ambulance though and advocated the provision of critical care — providing the highest possible level of pre-hospital care, regardless of the mode of transport.

Jonathan now joins GWAAC’s Doctor Phil Cowburn in receiving an award from the Queen’s New Year Honours list. Phil was awarded an MBE in 2021 for his outstanding services to pre-hospital emergency care, most recently during the COVID-19 pandemic. Not only is Jonathan the Chief Medical Officer for NHS Digital, and the founding Clinical Director, Trustee, and Critical Care Doctor at GWAAC, since 2003 he has been the  Consultant in Emergency Medicine at University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trust (UHBW).

Jonathan says: “It’s important to remain clinically grounded and to remain close to the practical delivery of patient care and the challenges that staff face every day.”

Jonathan’s grounded and can-do attitude is what makes him a hero in the eyes of his GWAAC colleagues.

“I am delighted JB has been recognised for his outstanding services to the NHS and in particular his contribution to NHS Digital during the pandemic. We are extremely proud of his achievement and feel honoured and humbled to have benefited from JB’s professionalism and expertise in pre-hospital emergency care. GWAAC wouldn’t be the charity it is today without him.”

Anna Perry, CEO, Great Western Air Ambulance Charity.