West Midlands Ambulance Service has revealed it is working with the University of Wolverhampton with a vision to rebrand as the West Midlands Ambulance Service University NHS Foundation Trust.
The trust is consulting on the name change, which it says will reflect its focus on education and training.
For over a decade paramedics in the West Midlands have been university-educated, and the trust works closely with four universities in the education of paramedics – Wolverhampton, Worcester, Staffordshire and Coventry – while undertaking research with a number of others.
Trust Chairman, Sir Graham Meldrum, said: “Our work with the universities is producing tangible benefits for the Trust, our staff and ultimately benefits our patients. We are therefore planning to introduce the title of ‘University’ into the organisation’s name.
“The Trust works in partnership with universities to further develop education, training and research opportunities that take the ambulance sector into the future. This is an exciting development and one that allows us to articulate our position in the ambulance sector going forward.
“We have a significant role to play in the education and training of our current and future workforce, contribute to the research and evidence base to develop the paramedic profession, and extend our understanding of the urgent and emergency care needs in the pre-hospital environment.”
To keep costs down, the trust will not be rebranding its fleet or buildings to reflect the name change, but new vehicles would bear the new name.
If the outcome of the consultation is supportive of the change, the t rust will initially sign an agreement with the University of Wolverhampton which would include the permission to use the title ‘university’.
Geoff Layer, Vice Chancellor of the University of Wolverhampton, said: “We are delighted to be working with West Midlands Ambulance Service to strengthen their links with our University and the wider university network.
“Our own work will see us significantly increase the number of graduate paramedics we are training and together we plan to establish a Research & Development Hub, clinical research, major incident planning and response research and other associated training, accreditation and development.
“In the view of our Board of Governors, this memorandum is an excellent development that recognises our close working relationship with WMAS but also the very significant work that the Trust undertakes within the university field for the benefit of staff and patients alike.”
The trust will also look to increase its ties with each of the other West Midlands based universities that it already works with. Currently over 700 student paramedics are being trained with more than 400 more entering full time study.
WMAS Chief Executive, Anthony Marsh, added: “We now have an opportunity to formally recognise the role we play both in the education of paramedics and research activities to advance paramedic science.
“In addition, we think that the term University in our name will convey the fact that paramedics have become a graduate profession and make it more attractive as a career to a wider range of the community.
“Most importantly, it will help our patients, our local population and stakeholders to see the vital links between health, education and research which lead to better outcomes for us all.”
Under NHS England guidance, the trust is required to check with stakeholders that the proposed new name will not conflict or be confused with the names of neighbouring NHS organisations or services, and that the proposed new name is clear and understandable. Anyone wanting to have their say in the consultation can do so by Friday, October 26.