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West Midlands Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust is the first ambulance trust to be rated Outstanding by the Care Quality Commission

25 January 2017
West Midlands Ambulance Service University NHS Foundation Trust
  • Media

England’s Chief Inspector of Hospitals has rated West Midlands Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (WMAS) as Outstanding following an inspection by the Care Quality Commission in July.

CQC carried out an announced inspection between 27 June 2016 to 1 July 2016 and conducted unannounced inspections on 13 and 14 July 2016.

WMAS serves a population of approximately 5.6 million, covers 5,000 square miles and provides services to 26 NHS trusts. It responds daily to around 3,000 ‘999’ calls and operates from 16 fleet preparation hubs across the region covering a network of over 90 ambulance stations.

The trust is currently the highest target performer across all ten ambulance trusts in England and has continually met required response times over the past year.

The inspections looked at four core services; Emergency and Urgent Care, Emergency Operations Centre, Patient Transport Services and Resilience.

The trust was rated as Outstanding for whether its services were caring and effective and Good for whether its services were safe, responsive and well-led.

CQC’s Chief Inspector of Hospitals, Professor Sir Mike Richards, said:

“I am extremely pleased to announce that West Midlands Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust is the first ambulance service in England to receive an outstanding rating.

“As demand for emergency care grows year by year, our ambulance services have never been busier. I know the trust is at the forefront of national improvements in the ambulance service, exploring better ways to deal with emergency calls so that people get appropriate care in the right place at the right time.

“Most importantly, the trust is effective in responding to all urgent calls that involve dealing with life-threatening or critical conditions within the required timeframes.

“The trust is well on its way to achieving its aim of having a paramedic on every emergency vehicle. It is also currently trialling new and innovative ways to minimise the time patients have to wait for an ambulance. Staff demonstrated a clear understanding of this project and were involved in rota changes to facilitate it.

“The trust has a strong and stable leadership team, which has put quality and safety as key priorities. It has organised the staff and resources well across a wide geographic area in order to respond well to the most urgent calls whilst working closely with other NHS providers to maximise the effectiveness of the service.

“We found staff to be outstanding in the way they supported people who were distressed or overwhelmed in stressful situations.

“For example, one staff member arranged for a patients’ cat to be cared for whilst the patient was in hospital, which alleviated their anxiety and made them comfortable with leaving their home for a hospital stay. Another, involved staff sitting with an elderly dementia patient and making them a drink until their carers arrived before the crew left.

“We observed staff modifying their language, tone and pace of speech to communicate with patients and their relatives to help them understand their care and treatment.

“Inspectors saw a positive, patient centred culture within the trust and staff were very proud to work there. We observed emergency crews that worked well as part of the wider team with police, social services, community matrons, mental health teams and district nurses.

“The hard work of staff across the trust is exemplary and making a real difference to patients across the West Midlands, the trust should be very proud of this outcome.

“We did, however, find some areas where improvements were needed, particularly within patient transport services which was rated as requires improvement overall. Our inspectors will return at a later date to check on the progress of these areas”.

A full report has been published on our website.

The report highlights several areas of good and outstanding practice, including:

  • The trust encouraged online engagements with patients and provided them with clear and concise tools to self-care and recognises life-threatening conditions.
  • Paramedic availability throughout the service, and plans to increase this further meant that highly qualified staff could provide emergency care to patients.
  • Hospital ambulance liaison officer’s across all divisions had developed innovative and forward thinking ideas to reduce hospital admissions and ambulance call outs which proved to be very effective.
  • The trust was shortlisted in 2015 for two national awards including; Enhancing Care by Sharing Data and Information and Improving Outcomes through Learning and Development.
  • The NHS England Core Standards return for 2015/16 was rated 100%, which is an area of outstanding practice.
  • The trust achieved response targets for red calls in 2015.
  • The trust found innovative ways of engaging with the local population, for example, the Youth Council, and the Youth Cadet scheme which encouraged young people to pursue a career in the NHS.

In 2016 two staff members were awarded Advanced Apprentice of the Year (Clinical) and Higher Apprentice of the Year.


For further information, please contact Regional Engagement Officer, Helen Gildersleeve, on 0191 233 3379.

Journalists wishing to speak to the press office outside of office hours can find out how to contact the team here.

Please note: the press office is unable to advise members of the public on health or social care matters. For general enquiries, please call 03000 61 61 61.

Last updated:
29 May 2017

Notes to editors

WMAS operates from two Emergency Operations Centres (EOCs) based at: Millennium Point, Brierley Hill (Trust HQ) and Tollgate Drive, Stafford, taking around 3,000 emergency '999' calls each day.


The trust has over 800 vehicles, including patient transport services vehicles, rapid response vehicles, motorcycle response units, and ambulance crews.


The inspection team of 48 included 20 CQC inspectors with acute and mental health backgrounds, an inspection manager, one CQC pharmacy manager and a pharmacy inspector, three assistant inspectors, an analyst, an inspection planner and variety of specialists. These included past and present directors and associate directors of ambulance services, advanced paramedics, paediatric emergency nurse consultant, national, regional and sector operations managers. The team also included a clinical educator, ambulance control dispatcher and an emergency call handler.


The Chief Inspector of Hospitals, Professor Sir Mike Richards, is leading significantly larger inspection teams than before, headed up by clinical and other experts including trained members of the public. Whenever CQC inspects it will always ask the following five questions of every service: Is it safe? Is it effective? Is it caring? Is it responsive to people’s needs? Is it well-led?


The Care Quality Commission will present its findings to a local Quality Summit, including NHS commissioners, providers, regulators and other public bodies. The purpose of the Quality Summit is to develop a plan of action and recommendations based on the inspection team’s findings.


Since 1 April 2015, providers have been required to display their ratings on their premises and on their websites so that the public can see their rating quickly and easily. For further information on the requirement for providers to prominently display their CQC ratings, please visit:


About the Care Quality Commission

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) is the independent regulator of health and social care in England.

We make sure health and social care services provide people with safe, effective, compassionate, high-quality care and we encourage care services to improve.

We monitor, inspect and regulate services to make sure they meet fundamental standards of quality and safety and we publish what we find to help people choose care.