West Midlands ambulance boss says 'very special staff' behind successful decade

The chairman of West Midlands Ambulance Service has said the success of the last decade can be attributed to the service's "very special people".

Sir Graham Meldrum, centre, will be stepping down as chairman of West Midlands Ambulance Service University NHS Foundation Trust
Sir Graham Meldrum, centre, will be stepping down as chairman of West Midlands Ambulance Service University NHS Foundation Trust

Sir Graham Meldrum has been chairman of the West Midlands Ambulance Service for nearly 14 years, but will be stepping down on March 31.

West Midlands has become the only ambulance service rated as Outstanding by the Care Quality Commission and one of only two who are rated in segmentation one by NHS Improvement.

In addition, the trust is the only one consistently exceeding the national performance standings, has a paramedic on every vehicle and has no frontline vehicle older than five years.

Sir Graham said: “The last decade has been an incredibly special one, seeing the trust develop and achieve things that might not have seemed possible ten years ago.

“While the decisions taken by the board and senior leadership have undoubtedly shaped the way the service has developed, it could not have been achieved without the most important part of the organisation the staff.

A new chairman will oversee West Midlands Ambulance Service

"To a large extent, the reason we have been so successful is the roll out of the ‘Make Ready’ system where we have 15 large hubs instead of over 80 small ambulance stations.

"It has allowed us to become far more efficient, which has allowed us to invest far more than we would have been able to in frontline staff and vehicles, which is ultimately what is needed to provide a high quality service.

“Whilst we are undoubtedly successful, the service will not stand still and will continue to develop long after I have left. The next decade looks like an exciting time to be within the ambulance sector."

Professor Ian Cumming OBE will join the ambulance trust when he leaves his current role as chief executive of Health Education England at the end of March 2020.

WATCH: Ian Cumming on his new role

He will also take up a new role as professor of global healthcare workforce and strategy at Keele University.

His career in the health service spans 38 years; originally training as a research scientist, before spending 25 years as an NHS Chief Executive. He has worked in hospitals, commissioning services and as Chief Executive of the NHS in the West Midlands.

Professor Cumming said: “I have had a personal interest in pre-hospital care for many years. The ambulance service meets people at a time when they are arguably at their most vulnerable.

“West Midlands Ambulance Service 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.

“There is no doubt that the next decade will be one of real change for the ambulance service and the NHS with the growth of technology and integration.

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