Forging an alliance to improve patient care

Three ambulance services have announced plans to form an alliance to improve efficiency and benefit patient care.

Between them, South Western, South East Coast and West Midlands Ambulance Service handle more than 2.5 million 999 calls every year.  The three Trusts plan to form an alliance that will see them working even more closely together to deliver efficiency savings to invest in front line services.

The alliance expects to deliver savings through initiatives such as the joint procurement of supplies, including equipment and fuel.  In addition, the three will work collaboratively to share best practice across the area for the benefit of patients and staff.  They will also work on improving resilience between the organisations for planned events and major incidents.

The work will draw upon existing benchmarking and evidence from the National Audit Office investigation into ambulance services, and more recently, the report from Lord Carter into efficiency and productivity.

There are no plans to merge services or restructure existing operations, but the changes mean that the three Trusts can make every pound of taxpayers’ money work as efficiently as possible.

Ken Wenman, Chief Executive of South Western Ambulance Service (SWASFT), said: “I am really excited by this new alliance.  There are significant benefits for both our people and our patients from the three services working more closely together.  It will allow us to reduce duplication and learn from best practice which will save money and ultimately improve the care we provide for our patients.”

Daren Mochrie, Chief Executive of South East Coast Ambulance Service (SECAmb) said: “This is the right thing to do for our patients and our staff.  By forming this partnership, we will be able to bring together the knowledge and experience of three Trusts to explore ways to reduce variation in some areas and develop new joint initiatives that will untimely enhance the quality of the care for our patients.”

Anthony Marsh, Chief Executive of West Midlands Ambulance Service (WMAS) added: “I can see real improvements in the way we work coming from the development of our relationships between organisations.  In particular I can see how we will improve the resilience of our Services which can only benefit staff and patients alike.”

The decision to move towards an alliance was agreed on Tuesday (20th November) by the Chief Executives and Chairs of the three Trusts and follows the recommendations of the Carter Report, which described ambulance services working in an alliance to deliver efficiency savings and improved productivity.

SWASFT Chairman, Tony Fox, said: “This is a fantastic opportunity to capitalise on the best the three ambulance services has to offer, use the significant purchasing power we collectively have and learn from the experience and share best practice between alliance partners to improve the quality of the service to our patients here in the South West.”

SECAmb Chairman, David Astley, said: “I am confident that, by working closely in partnership with our colleagues from SWAST and WMAS, we will all be able to benefit from sharing best practice and making efficiencies through joint procurement to drive real improvements for our staff and our patients.”

WMAS Chairman, Sir Graham Meldrum, said: “There are clear advantages of the three organisations working together which can only benefit staff and the public we serve.  This alliance will allow us to improve the care we provide to patients whilst supporting our staff who work incredibly hard every day.”