West Midlands Ambulance Service

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West Midlands Ambulance Service University NHS Foundation Trust
Created1 July 2006
Made foundationJanuary 2013 (University NHS Foundation Trust November 2018)
HeadquartersBrierley Hill, West Midlands, England
Region servedWest Midlands region, England
NHS regionNHS England
Area size5,000 square miles (13,000 km2)
Population5.6 million
TypeUniversity NHS Foundation Trust
Budget£227 million
ChairSir Graham Medlum OBE, OStJ
Chief executiveDr Anthony C Marsh
Number of employeesaround 4,500

The West Midlands Ambulance Service University NHS Foundation Trust (WMAS) is the second-largest ambulance service, and the first university ambulance trust in the UK. It is the authority responsible for providing NHS ambulance services within the West Midlands region of England; the trust won the contract for non-emergency patient transport services in Cheshire, Warrington and Wirral previously provided by the North West Ambulance Service in 2015. It transferred in July 2016;[1] the trust is currently under the leadership of chief executive Dr Anthony Marsh QAM, SBStJ, FASI, MBA, MSc, DSc h.c and chair Sir Graham Medlum OBE, OStJ. It is one of 10 Ambulance Trusts providing England with Emergency medical services, and is part of the National Health Service. There is no charge to patients for use of the service.

WMAS was one of the highest-performing ambulance services in England and one of only two to exceed all of its national performance targets in 2006–07, it employs around 4,500 staff and is supported by about 1,000 volunteers, over 63 sites, and makes over 450,000 emergency responses every year.

The trust is currently the best-performing ambulance service in the NHS, being graded Outstanding by Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspectors in January 2017 and the only ambulance service to meet Government targets.


The trust was formed on 1 July 2006, following the merger of the Hereford & Worcester Ambulance Service NHS Trust, Coventry & Warwickshire Ambulance NHS Trust, and WMAS and Shropshire services.[2]

On 1 October 2007 the service merged with Staffordshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust.[2][3] At the time Staffordshire Ambulance Service was widely regarded as one of the best-performing ambulance services on the planet, its success came from its pioneering work in introducing "first responders" – a concept where volunteer, fully trained paramedics and first-aiders would respond in liveried cars on lights and sirens from their homes, and from their normal places of work, to provide vital first aid to a patient before an ambulance arrived. This system is now largely seen as the norm, and has been adopted by every ambulance service in the country, and many more across the globe.

It became an NHS foundation trust on 1 January 2013.[4]

It was announced on 14 November 2018, that the West Midlands Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust had gone into partnership with the University of Wolverhampton to form the UK's first university-ambulance trust; as a result, the trust has changed its name to West Midlands Ambulance Service University NHS Foundation Trust.[5] [6]


In the 2017–18 contract negotiations with Clinical commissioning groups,where Sandwell and West Birmingham CCG negotiated on behalf of all the West Midlands CCGs the trust sought financial compensation for the delays to ambulances caused by patient handover delays at local hospitals. WMAS wanted a "full second tariff" on top of the standard tariff for delays over 60 minutes, and "a smaller second tariff" for delays over 30 minutes, which would have come to around £6 million. After mediation by NHS England and NHS Improvement it was agreed to pay the trust an additional £2.1m in 2017–18. Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust and Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust were singled out as the main culprits.[7]

In 2017 it got an outstanding rating from the Care Quality Commission - the only ambulance trust to do so.[8]

Emergency Operations Centres[edit]

Following the merger of the trusts, WMAS inherited a number of standalone control rooms; this resulted in 5 centres spread across the region operating independently using varying levels of technology at sites:[9] Millennium Point, Brierley Hill, Tollgate Drive, Stafford, Abbey Foregate, Shrewsbury, Bransford, Worcester and Dale St, Leamington Spa. On 28 November 2007, the trust agreed to go ahead with proposals for the reconfiguration of its Emergency Operations Centres, despite vocal protests from the public. WMAS now operates from two Emergency Operations Centres based at Millenium Point, Brierley Hill (Trust HQ) and Tollgate Drive, Stafford, it also operates a virtual EOC so waiting calls at either of the Trusts two EOCs can be answered by the other, even if the call isn't designated to that control room. This increases the speed at which vehicles can be dispatched.


As of 2019, the trust had over 400 vehicles, including patient transport services vehicles, rapid response vehicles, motorcycle response units, and of course ambulance crews.

  • 465 Double Crewed Emergency Response Ambulances
  • A reduced number of Rapid Response Vehicles (made up of various 4x4 models and estate cars) which are now mainly used by managers and specialist resources.
  • 263 Patient Transport Service vehicle - these are non emergency-capable vehicles without Emergency Equipment fitted used for transporting patients to/from/between medical treatment facilities and patients home addresses
  • 31 Major Incident vehicles, used to support large-scale incidents where multiple ambulances may be overwhelmed or there is the requirement for a co-ordinated response across Emergency Response services.

In addition to the fleet, the Service has several specialist teams available should the requirement arise

  • The Medical Emergency Response Intervention Team (MERIT) are a Critical Care Paramedic and Trauma Doctor responding to emergencies in a Rapid Response Vehicle.
  • See Hazardous Area Response Team
  • In times of emergency, WMAS also requests assistance from voluntary ambulance providers, such as St John Ambulance.[10] St John Ambulance (SJA) also provides 'A&E Support' crews at times when there is a high level of staff absence or there is an unusually high call volume; this arrangement sees SJA crews attending Emergency or Non-Emergency calls. SJA crews may treat and transport certain categories of patient, although they are expected to ask for further assistance for more serious patients.
  • WMAS can dispatch any of 3 air ambulances from the Midlands Air Ambulance Charity, carrying a specially trained doctor and critical care paramedic at all times.
  • West Midlands Ambulance Service are supported by several BASICS-affiliated charities, who provide volunteer doctors and nurses to support the regular ambulance service staff at more serious incidents.
  • On some evenings and all weekends, support for front-line crews is provided by the West Midlands CARE Team. The CARE Team is a volunteer group of BASICS doctors and nurses, conveyed in a specially equipped fast response car by a paramedic officer to provide advanced medical care at the scene of an incident.
  • In Herefordshire and Worcestershire, the Mercia Accident Rescue Service (MARS) is available to supplement and assist WMAS crews.
  • North Staffordshire BASICS provide similar support in the north of the WMAS region.
  • In times of severe weather, WMAS also has the ability to call on the Severn Area Rescue Association who have 4x4 ambulances.[11]
  • WMAS can dispatch Community First Responder, who are volunteers working in partnership with WMAS, to medical emergencies in their local communities. These schemes are located all throughout the West Midlands, mostly located in rural areas where response times are longer.



In 2011, a new system was announced for the operations of ambulance services in Herefordshire, whereby Hereford would serve as the 24-hour "hub" where all vehicles would be serviced, maintained and held before all shifts.[12] Former stations include: Leominster, Ledbury, Ross-on-Wye, Bromyard, Kington, and Leintwardine - closed in late 1990s. Community Ambulance Station (CAS) sites are used in Ledbury, Leominster, Ross-On-Wye, Kington & Bromyard.


"Make ready" hubs - Shrewsbury & Donnington (Telford). CAS sites - Tweedale, Bridgnorth, Craven arms, Market Drayton & Oswestry.


"Make ready" hubs - Tollgate - Stafford (EOC & "Make ready" hub), Lichfield & Stoke-on-Trent. CAS sites - Burton, Cannock chase, Lichfield, Tamworth, Newcastle-Under-Lyme & Staffordshire Moorlands.


"Make ready" hubs - Warwick & Coventry. CAS sites - Atherstone, Nuneaton, Rugby & Stratford-Upon-Avon.

West Midlands Conurbation[edit]

As of the last quarter of 2013 provision for the Birmingham area moved to Aston Fire Station as a temporary move. In February 2017 the trust closed the Aston Fire Station response point, relocating the staff to the two main Birmingham hubs of Erdington and Hollymoor. All small ambulance stations closed and services were moved into the 2 main "Hubs" which form a make ready system where ambulances are prepared prior to crew shift time commencement. There is also a sub-hub in east Birmingham based at Solihull Hospital. A Response car is based at a community ambulance station in Dorridge (Knowle); as of April 2018 this car has been withdrawn.

In May 2017 the Motorcycle response unit was also abolished with the remaining staff moving to different operational areas of the trust. "Make ready" hubs - Hollymoor, Erdington, Oldbury (HART & MERIT base), and Sandwell.

Black Country The Black Country is served by ‘Make Ready’ hubs: Dudley, Willenhall and West Bromwich. A number of much smaller but widely spread Community Ambulance Stations (CAS) closed with the removal of RRVs from operations. Previous CAS sites included Stourbridge, Cradley Heath, Tipton, Halesowen, etc.


"Make ready" hubs - Worcester & Bromsgrove. CAS sites - Kidderminster, Malvern, Evesham, Redditch, Bromsgrove, Stourport and Pershore.

See also[edit]

Other emergency medical services[edit]

Other emergency services[edit]



  1. ^ "North West Ambulance Service loses contract to cover Cheshire". Chester Chronicle. 1 January 2016. Retrieved 2 January 2016.
  2. ^ a b "Health Care Commission: WMAS". Retrieved 4 April 2008.
  3. ^ "Midlands ambulance trusts merge". BBC News. 1 October 2007. Retrieved 28 March 2008.
  4. ^ http://www.wmas.nhs.uk/about-us>
  5. ^ https://www.shropshirelive.com/news/2018/11/14/new-partnership-blue-lights-the-way-for-university-and-ambulance-service/
  6. ^ https://wmas.nhs.uk/2018/11/14/new-partnership-blue-lights-the-way-for-university-and-ambulance-service/
  7. ^ "Trust sought millions in compensation for 'horrendous' handover delays". Health Service Journal. 23 January 2017. Retrieved 24 January 2017.
  8. ^ "Worcester paramedic receives award from West Midlands Ambulance Service after stopping man self harming with a knife". Worcester News. 3 April 2017. Retrieved 21 April 2017.
  9. ^ West Midlands Control Room Option Appraisal (10/10/2007)
  10. ^ "Shropshire's response to the flooding". July 2007. Retrieved 27 March 2008.
  11. ^ http://www.wmas.nhs.uk/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=MN3F174SMVY%3d&tabid=149&mid=1081. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  12. ^ [1]

External links[edit]