WMAS set to become first University NHS Foundation Trust in the country

Anthony Marsh, Chief Executive, WMAS.

For over a decade, all paramedics in the West Midlands have been educated and trained at university; the trust also undertakes world-leading research with a number of universities; so it is perhaps fitting that West Midlands Ambulance Service (WMAS) is set to become the first ambulance University NHS Foundation Trust in the country.

In a ground breaking move, the trust is working with the University of Wolverhampton to become the first university ambulance service. As a result, the trust is engaging with stakeholders, patients and the public on changing the organisation’s name to West Midlands Ambulance Service University NHS Foundation Trust.

Currently, the trust works closely with four universities in the education of paramedics: University of Wolverhampton, University of Worcester, Staffordshire University and Coventry University. The trust also undertakes a great deal of research with a range of institutions, including the University of Warwick, University of Birmingham; University of Sheffield; University of Nottingham; and Swansea University, as well as other health organisations.

Sir Graham Meldrum, Trust Chairman, said, “Our work with the universities is producing tangible benefits for the trust, our staff and ultimately benefits our patients. We are therefore planning to introduce the title of ‘University’ into the organisation’s name. The trust works in partnership with universities to further develop education, training and research opportunities that take the ambulance sector into the future. This is an exciting development and one that allows us to articulate our position in the ambulance sector going forward. We have a significant role to play in the education and training of our current and future workforce, contribute to the research and evidence base to develop the paramedic profession and extend our understanding of the urgent and emergency care needs in the pre-hospital environment.”

The cost of implementation is minimal. The trust will not be rebranding its fleet or buildings except when they would have been replaced in any case. For example, only as new vehicles are brought in would the name be changed. In addition, WMAS doesn’t use pre-printed headed paper, so there’ll be no additional costs for stationery.

If the outcome of the consultation is positive, the trust will initially sign an agreement with the University of Wolverhampton, which would include the permission to use the title ‘University’ in the trust name.

Anthony Marsh, Chief Executive, WMAS, said, “We now have an opportunity to formally recognise the role we play both in the education of paramedics and research activities to advance paramedic science. In addition, we think that the term University in our name will convey the fact that paramedics have become a graduate profession and make it more attractive as a career to a wider range of the community. Most importantly, it will help our patients, our local population and stakeholders to see the vital links between health, education and research which lead to better outcomes for us all.”

WMAS Director of Workforce and Organisational Development, Kim Nurse, said, “We have been the leading ambulance service in the development of paramedics through a university process. Our close partnerships and collaborations mean that over the last decade, literally thousands of students have undertaken placements with the trust as they learn their profession. Currently, over 700 student paramedics are being trained with a more than 400 more entering full-time study.”

The Trust will also look to increase its ties with each of the other West Midlands based universities with which it already works.