Single ambulance service for the South West
PLANS to create a single ambulance service for the South West are set to go ahead next month.
A recommendation to join together the two services currently serving the region are with the Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt, for approval.
The move will see the South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust which covers Somerset, Dorset, Devon and Cornwall, take on services currently provided by Great Western Ambulance Service NHS Trust, which covers which covers Wiltshire Gloucestershire, Bristol, Swindon and parts of north and east Somerset.
The change is planned to take place from Friday, February 1.
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The takeover would create an organisation serving a resident population of more than 5.3 million people with more than 4,000 staff based at more than 120 sites, including 96 ambulance stations and six air bases.
The move follows an announcement by the Chippenham headquartered Great Western trust in August 2011 that it was seeking to achieve foundation trust status by joining a partner organisation.
In October 2011, the Exeter headquartered South Western trust was identified as the preferred partner.Ken Wenman is chief executive of both organisations.
He said: "The two trusts' desire in October 2011 to create a partnership was based on a real confidence that it was in the best interests of patients, staff and taxpayers.
"Over the past year, the proposals have rightly been subjected to rigorous scrutiny by a range of external bodies, as well as by the trusts' boards.
"It is reassuring that at no stage of the process have there been any concerns that the partnership should not proceed and we are now looking forward to receiving final approval.
"Throughout this period, we have also sought to actively engage with the communities we serve and their representatives to update them on our plans and to reassure people that our commitment is to improve the care and service we provide to patients.
"A huge amount of work has been done – and continues to be done – by staff of both trusts to ensure a smooth integration.
"This has been achieved while focusing on continuing to meet all national performance standards and deliver excellent patient care.
"I therefore welcome this opportunity to publicly acknowledge and thank all staff from both organisations for their commitment and dedication during what I know is an unsettling time."