Trust set to become first university ambulance service

Tuesday 9th October 2018 – 9.45am – Murray MacGregor.

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 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.

Trust Chairman, Sir Graham Meldrum, 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, to maintain our commitment to having no vehicle over five years old, about 20% of our ambulances are replaced each year.  Only as new vehicles are brought in would the name be changed.  In addition, we don’t use pre-printed headed paper, so there’s no cost 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.

Geoff Layer, Vice Chancellor of the University of Wolverhampton, said: “We are delighted to be working with West Midlands Ambulance Service to strengthen their links with our University and the wider university network.

“Our own work will see us significantly increase the number of graduate paramedics we are training and together we plan to establish a Research & Development Hub, clinical research, major incident planning and response research and other associated training, accreditation and development.

“In the view of our Board of Governors, this memorandum is an excellent development that recognises our close working relationship with WMAS but also the very significant work that the Trust undertakes within the university field for the benefit of staff and patients alike.”

WMAS Chief Executive, Anthony Marsh, 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.”

Trust Interim Medical Director, Dr Alison Walker added: “We already have an extensive research portfolio, participating in work that is of international significance, and we see that work developing further over time.  This has included studies into the use of adrenaline in cardiac arrests; the use of pre-hospital blood products for traumatic haemorrhage; the use of continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) in a prehospital setting for patients with acute respiratory failure; and the use of GTN in patients with hyperacute stroke.

“The move to become a University Foundation Trust articulates, emphasises and recognises the work that we undertake with universities in this region and across the country and shows the ever greater focus on training and research.”

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 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 that it already works with.

Under NHS England guidance, the Trust is required to check with stakeholders that the proposed new name will not conflict or be confused with the names of neighbouring NHS organisations or services, and that the proposed new name is clear and understandable.  Please consider the above information and let us know your thoughts by Friday 26 October 2018.

If you are content with the proposed name change, you may wish to respond using this form of words:

I have considered the plans for renaming the West Midlands Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust and confirm that the proposed new name is clear and understandable.

However you wish to respond, please send your comments to:


Post: Have Your Say, West Midlands Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust, Millennium Point, Waterfront Way, Brierley Hill, Dudley, DY5 1LX



Are we trying to become a university?

No, we will continue to be an NHS Foundation Trust.  This move just enforces the close working relationship we have with a range of universities across the region.

Will you be taken over by the University of Wolverhampton?

No, we will continue to operate in exactly the same way as we do.  This is a simple name change which is aimed to show the importance we give to the education of our staff.


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