Q&A with Phil Warren, Mersey Medical Services
Since 2016 Mersey Medical Services has provided support and treatment at events across the UK, attending everything from horse races and football matches to festivals and TV shoots.
But that’s not quite the full story.
“I used to run another company called Manchester Medical Services,” explains Phil Warren, co-founder of both Mersey and Manchester Medical Services. “We launched in 2006 and started out providing medical support at events, including night clubs. This evolved over time and we started to supply ambulance and patient transfer services (PTS) services to the NHS.
“We covered lots of major events over the years, like Manchester Pride and Parklife, but towards the end we focused on providing the NHS with extra resources, supporting 999 efforts and PTS. Around 2016 we decided to completely stop doing events with Manchester Medical Services.
“That’s when I created Mersey Medical Services, dedicated to event support, with another partner, Dr Joshua Masheder. We then sold the original business to an American company in 2018.”
When asked about the appeal of providing medical support services, Phil doesn’t miss a beat: “I was a member of St John Ambulance for a few years, as was my colleague and co-founder. We both had ideas and wanted to run things differently so we decided to start our first business. It evolved from there.”
Events of all Shapes and Sizes
The list of high-profile events that Mersey Medical Services has worked on is enviable, with some of the biggest names in the British events calendar gracing their list of clients.
“We’ve done festivals like Blue Dot at Jodrell Bank and Slam Dunk Festival in Leeds,” Phil says. “There were others in Anglesey and down south. We’ve done Bristol Pride. We’ve also supplied staff to Manchester Central.
“We also worked on Love Island for the last two years – obviously not this year, because of Covid-19 – but last year and the year before. We had nurses and paramedics and even a doctor out there.
“We’ve done Dancing on Ice, which we’re working on again this year. And we’ve been working on The Voice for 5 years. Then there’s Ninja Warrior. We’ve worked with a lot of household names.
“You name it, we do it. From one-off events and horse races all the way up to huge festivals with 30-40 staff working on them per shift.”
As a family-owned business, the core team is made up of Phil, Dr Josh and their respective partners, while the medics are subcontractors working on a freelance basis.
“To all intents and purposes, most of our team works for the NHS full-time. So we’ve got student paramedics, full-time paramedics, doctors and nurses on board.
“As a result, a large part of my role is admin and documentation. I deal with compliance and governance. I often refer to it as herding cats: once one person’s medical certificate is renewed and recorded, someone else’s has expired. I’m constantly chasing things up.”
Phil takes the focus on governance seriously. Mersey Medical Services does lots of work with local authorities and councils, which are particularly concerned about compliance.
He laughingly explains that it’s not all paperwork though; there are a lot of upsides when it comes to running a medical services business.
“You’re helping people. It could be 4 am and you could be helping someone vulnerable back to their tent at a festival, like someone who’s had a bit too much to drink. Or you could be doing compressions on someone who’s collapsed while a paramedic intubates them to keep them alive. We can literally be saving lives.”
The impact of coronavirus on medical services
On the subject of festivals, the conversation naturally moves onto coronavirus and its impact on the medical support industry.
“We’ve been massively affected by Covid. We haven’t had a single event since March. The event industry has come to a complete, crashing halt. That’s everything from our nightclub and regular event work to festivals, horse racing and sport.
“The One Broker Ambulance team was really helpful during that time. We were paying insurance for ambulances with full blue-light use and they were parked up doing nothing.
“Shane [Ford, Broking Executive] was really good. He advised us to amend our insurance cover so we paid only for the insurance we needed. We saved money by registering the ambulance fleet as being off the road. They were just insured for fire, theft and damage while they were parked.
“We also started renting vehicles out; the person renting them would insure them for road risks. We spoke to Rob [Rowley, Account Executive] and Shane to make sure things went smoothly. Interestingly, some of the people we were renting them to were One Broker clients already. It all tied together quite nicely.”
In fact, Phil’s praise for the One Broker service is quite something.
“We worked with One Broker, or KTIB as it was then, in the Manchester Medical Services days. We used them for absolutely every insurance going.
“I’ve worked closely with Rob for years and now I’m getting to know Shane too. I like to work with someone I have a relationship with.
“I’m constantly advocating for One Broker and the team. I mention them in online groups and forums – I wouldn’t recommend them if I wasn’t happy with the service.”
A Bright Future Ahead
Taking everything in his stride, Phil is unfazed by what’s in store for the coming years.
“In the past six weeks filming has restarted, so we’ve been on set with The Voice and some TV adverts, and we’ve been doing still shoots for catalogues too.
“We’ve also won another couple of other contracts up at MediaCity Studios in Salford. We’re their preferred supplier so we’ve had some film shoots come in.
“We plan to expand the business next year too. We’re really looking to develop and grow the business.”
Want to know how we can help your medical support business? Speak to the One Broker Ambulance team. They’ll discuss your needs and arrange appropriate cover for the risks you face.
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