Highly respected NHS leader to take up role as Chair of WMAS

Murray MacGregor – Tuesday 19th November 2019 – 10.00am.

West Midlands Ambulance Service is delighted to announce that it has appointed a highly respected NHS Leader as the new Chair of the Trust.

Professor Ian Cumming OBE will join the Service, the only Ambulance Trust rated ‘Outstanding’ by the CQC, when he leaves his current role as Chief Executive of Health Education England, the education and training organisation for the NHS, at the end of March 2020.  He will also take up a new role as Professor of Global Healthcare Workforce and Strategy at Keele University.

Prof. Cumming said: “After 38 years in the NHS, including 25 years as an NHS Chief Executive, I feel that the time is right to pursue new goals.  The opportunity to remain in the NHS while also taking up an academic role is the perfect opportunity for my next career step.

“I have had a personal interest in pre-hospital care from many years and well remember meeting WMAS Chief Executive Anthony Marsh in 2009 to talk about how we could improve care at a time when patients are arguably at their most vulnerable.  What is notable is that WMAS has delivered on all of those discussions including developing their staff so that there is a paramedic on every ambulance; having a modern fleet; and the introduction of ‘Make Ready’ hubs to improve efficiency.

“WMAS already has a real focus on keeping the Trust at forefront of developing patient care and I am looking forward to helping them continue that journey.  As we move towards more care at home, I want to focus with the team at WMAS on how we can build on the integration of 111, but also increase the care that is provided at a time of need.

“As someone who lives within the West Midlands, I am excited at the prospect of becoming a part of a high performing organisation that is innovative and leads the way in so many areas of development whilst continuing to provide a very high level of service to patients.”

Anthony Marsh, Chief Executive of WMAS said “I am delighted our Governors have appointed Ian to succeed Sir Graham Meldrum as our Chairman.  Ian has worked closely with WMAS over the last 11 years both as Chief Executive of NHS West Midlands and then more recently in his role at HEE and brings with him a wealth of knowledge about NHS organisations and the development of the most important part of our organisation – our staff.

“Prof. Cumming has been hugely supportive to WMAS in recent years on projects such as upskilling our workforce so that we became and remain the only ambulance service to have a paramedic on every vehicle.

“He has also been very supportive of our move to become the first University Ambulance Service in the country and in the setting up of the National Ambulance Academy and National Improvement Faculty, all of which champion the development of ambulance services and our staff.

“I would also like to pay tribute to our current Chairman, Sir Graham Meldrum, who has played a pivotal role in the Trust’s development for more than a decade.  His leadership has brought huge benefits to the organisation, our staff, and the patients we serve.  In particular his tireless work in the field of diversity and inclusion has seen us make significant progress in developing our workforce so that it truly represents the West Midlands region.”

Current Chairman, Sir Graham Meldrum, added: “I very much welcome the appointment of Ian Cumming by the Council of Governors.  The development and wellbeing of staff is clearly something that Ian holds dearly.  At a time when the NHS is under more pressure than ever before, having someone who sees such issues as central to the organisation can only be good news.

“It has been an absolute privilege to lead this organisation over nearly 14 years; the hard work, enthusiasm and dedication of the staff here is exemplary.  I have had the pleasure of meeting hundreds of our staff over that time and each time I do I am left incredibly proud to be in this position.

“I am absolutely confident that Ian will continue the good work of the Board of Directors and Council of Governors to help this organisation maintain it’s position as a leader within ambulance services.”

Lead Governor, Eileen Cox, who was Chair of the appointing panel, said: “We were very impressed by the number, range of experience and backgrounds of the candidates who put themselves forward for the position of Chairman.

“As a Foundation Trust, the Governors played the leading part in the selection process and our panel was made up of both elected and staff Governors.

“In the end, our decision was unanimous.  We were very impressed by the range of experience and enthusiasm Prof. Cumming had for this organisation.  What came through so strongly was his wish to see staff flourish both professionally, but also personally.

“He was very clear that by looking after our staff, they will look after our patients and that will lead to better care, which at the end of the day is the driving force of everything that we do.”

Professor Cumming will take up his new role with WMAS on 1st April 2020.  His appointment is for an initial period of three years.


Professor Ian Cumming Biography

Ian started his career in the NHS as a Biomedical Scientist and later worked as a Research Scientist in coagulation disorders before moving into NHS Leadership in the early 1990’s.

He has held a variety of NHS general management posts including over 11 years as Chief Executive of acute hospital Trusts, followed by three years as the Chief Executive of a healthcare commissioning organisation prior to being appointed Chief Executive of the NHS in the West Midlands in 2009.

In 2012, Ian was appointed Chief Executive of Health Education England (HEE). Ian has a particular interest in the development of leadership skills in clinical staff and is an Honorary Professor of Healthcare Leadership in the Medical School at Lancaster University.

In 2003 Ian was awarded the OBE for services to the NHS and in 2010 Ian was made an honorary Fellow of the Royal College of General Practitioners.

Ian has a special interest in sports medicine an area in which he hold an MSc.  Ian became a board member of Sport England in 2016.

Outside work, Ian is a qualified level 3 swimming coach, working closely with young people to develop their swimming abilities, a keen snow skier and enjoys sailing, walking and watching rugby union.


Ian Cumming - photo strategy

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