The two ambulance services in the South West are to merge, creating a single organisation serving more than 5.3 million people.
Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt, has approved the plans for South Western Ambulance Service Foundation Trust (SWASFT) and Great Western Ambulance Service (GWAS) to join forces.
The ministerial signature on the formal GWAS Dissolution Order earlier this week paves the way for the creation of a single ambulance service for the South West from Friday 1 February when SWASFT will take on the services currently provided by GWAS.
When as a Board we decided in August 2011 to identify a partner rather than
pursue an application for foundation trust status as an independent trust, our
decision was based on the best interests of patients, staff and taxpayers.
That focus has remained throughout the rigorous process that has resulted in this welcome decision by the Secretary of State.
I would also pay tribute to all GWAS staff who have continued to provide
high-quality care to patients during what has undoubtedly been an unsettling
time for them personally.
I have met many skilled and committed clinicians and managers within
GWAS, mirroring the expertise I know we have in SWASFT.
As a result, I am really looking forward to the great opportunity we have to
take the best from each trust.
This will further improve the quality of care offered to patients, as well as further strengthening the role of ambulance services within local health communities.
I would like to thank staff from both trusts who have worked – and continue
to work – so hard to make this partnership a reality.
People in the GWAS area now have an opportunity to be part of an NHS
foundation trust and I would encourage individuals to join as members and
to consider standing as Governors as we are committed to working with our
communities to ensure they receive the best ambulance service possible.