WMAS recognised as leading digital Trust

Jordan Eggington – Monday 23rd May 2022 – 5:15pm.

The Trust’s ability to utilise world-class digital tools is what’s helped it to become one of just two ambulance services in the country to receive accreditation from NHS England and NHS Improvement as part of its Global Digital Exemplar (GDE) programme.

A GDE is an internationally recognised NHS provider delivering improvements in the quality of patient care, through the world-class use of digital technologies and information. Exemplars will share their learning and experiences through the creation of blueprints to enable other Trusts to follow in their footsteps as quickly and effectively as possible.

Through the GDE projects, the Trust has significantly changed access to records for WMAS clinicians whilst with patients.  By accepting and embracing the range of systems that are available, they have integrated with multiple platforms to provide access to what is available, and access has grown as systems were brought online.  Through accessing the patient’s record, clinicians can make better decisions for their patients as they are better informed about diagnoses and treatment plans that are in place.  In the 20/21 year, access to records when a crew attends a patient, grew to 58.9% against a national target of 5%.

The Digital Maturity theme covered a collection of projects that aimed to enhance the digital capability of the Trust.  One of the later projects within this area related to digitising the WMAS ‘Make Ready’ processes, where Vehicle Preparation Operatives get vehicles ready for their next shift at our 15 operational hubs. This has seen staff move from working off whiteboard and paper sheets to a rolling digital screen. Crews now refer to the screen which contains the information they need to identify their vehicle. This benefit extends beyond the garage, as management teams have easy access to vehicle availability and can update crew information remotely.

The COVID-19 pandemic also brought with it additional challenges to how the digital infrastructure within the Trust works:

  • 111 First was implemented to allow patients to be booked into appointments in emergency departments.
  • Most support staff working from home.  This required a rapid deployment of remote access solutions for staff.
  • Non-emergency vehicles were allocated to support 999 operations.  These vehicles were equipped with a new mobile data solution.  Use of the new mobile data solution ensured compatibility with existing platforms while also allowing new technology to be trialled in live operation.
Pictured left to right: Operational Support Services Director, Craig Cooke, Head of IM&T and WMAS GDE Programme Lead, Phil Collins and NHS Digital Engagement Lead for Midlands, Ian Nelson.

Operational Support Services Director, Craig, Cooke, said: “A huge amount of work has been completed over the last few years to get to this point, and I want to thank all the staff who have taken on and completed the GDE. We’re now recognised against an international standard of digital capability and maturity and being one of just two ambulance services in the country to achieve this accolade is very special. The team from NHS England and NHS Improvement were extremely complimentary about the Trust’s determination to complete the GDE accreditation despite the pandemic pressures. Thanks also to the NHS Digital team – the whole process has been useful and a learning experience as well. It has certainly impacted how we will deliver projects moving forward.” 

Head of IM&T and WMAS GDE Programme Lead, Phil Collins, added: “Traditionally we have focussed on delivering IT equipment, but Digital draws more attention to how technology is used and the impact on patients, and this change of perspective helps deliver more benefit to our community.”

Dermot Ryan, Director of Frontline Digitisation at NHS England and NHS Improvement, said: “The team at West Midlands Ambulance Service are demonstrating how digital tools and access to data can help mitigate the challenges faced by the ambulance service – from access to patient records when a crew attends an emergency call, to streamlining vehicle preparation. The Trust has driven real transformation of how they deliver services, which is improving the experience for patients and staff.”


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