West Midlands Ambulance Service

The West Midlands Ambulance Service University NHS Foundation Trust (WMAS) is the second-largest ambulance service, and the first university ambulance trust in the UK. It is the authority responsible for providing NHS ambulance services within the West Midlands region of England.

West Midlands Ambulance Service University NHS Foundation Trust
TypeUniversity NHS Foundation Trust
Established1 July 2006
HeadquartersBrierley Hill, West Midlands, England
Region servedWest Midlands region, England
NHS regionNHS England
Area size5,000 square miles (13,000 km2)
Population5.6 million
Budget£227 million
ChairSir Graham Medlum
Chief executiveAnthony C Marsh

The Trust provides an extensive network of non-emergency patient transport services. Currently, contracts are operated in Birmingham, the Black Country, Arden and Cheshire. The contract for Worcestershire, which has been run by the ambulance service for 30 years, was lost to a private provider despite WMAS scoring more highly in the quality of patient services. This contract will be run until the end of March 2020. Each contract currently exceeds all of the performance metrics set by Commissioners.

The trust is currently under the leadership of chief executive Anthony Marsh CStJ and chair Sir Graham Medlum OBE, OStJ. It is one of 10 Ambulance Trusts providing England with Emergency medical services, and is part of the National Health Service. There is no charge to patients for use of the service.

WMAS was the highest-performing ambulance services in England and one of only two to exceed all of its national performance targets in 2018-19 It employs around 6,500 staff and is supported by about 1,000 volunteers. It has 15 large ‘Make Ready’ hubs where vehicles are prepared, maintained and cleaned by specialist staff ready for the clinical staff to use for treating patients. The Trust now responds to over 1,000,000 999 emergency calls every year. In November 2019, the Trust took over the running of the 111 service in the West Midlands (except Staffordshire).

The trust is currently the best-performing ambulance service in the NHS, being graded Outstanding by Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspectors in January 2017 and the only ambulance service to meet Government targets. The trust was further graded Outstanding by CQC inspectors during August 2019, with an Outstanding rating being given for four out of the five key areas being inspected. It is also in Segmentation One in the rating by NHS Improvement.


The trust was formed on 1 July 2006, following the merger of the Hereford & Worcester Ambulance Service NHS Trust, Coventry & Warwickshire Ambulance NHS Trust, and WMAS and Shropshire services.[1]

On 1 October 2007 the service merged with Staffordshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust.[1][2]

It became an NHS foundation trust on 1 January 2013.[3]

It was announced on 14 November 2018, that the West Midlands Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust had gone into partnership with the University of Wolverhampton to form the UK's first university-ambulance trust. It has since signed similar agreements with Staffordshire University, Coventry University, the University of Worcester and The University of Warwick. As a result, the trust has changed its name to West Midlands Ambulance Service University NHS Foundation Trust.[4] [5]


In the 2017–18 contract negotiations with Clinical commissioning groups,where Sandwell and West Birmingham CCG negotiated on behalf of all the West Midlands CCGs the trust sought financial compensation for the delays to ambulances caused by patient handover delays at local hospitals. WMAS wanted a "full second tariff" on top of the standard tariff for delays over 60 minutes, and "a smaller second tariff" for delays over 30 minutes, which would have come to around £6 million. After mediation by NHS England and NHS Improvement it was agreed to pay the trust an additional £2.1m in 2017–18. Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust and Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust were singled out as the main culprits.[6]

In 2017 it got an outstanding rating from the Care Quality Commission - the only ambulance trust to do so. This has been continued with a new CQC report in 2019 improving its outstanding status.[7]

Emergency Operations Centres

Following the merger of the trusts, WMAS inherited a number of standalone control rooms. This resulted in 5 centres spread across the region operating independently using varying levels of technology at sites:[8] Millennium Point, Brierley Hill, Tollgate Drive, Stafford, Abbey Foregate, Shrewsbury, Bransford, Worcester and Dale St, Leamington Spa. On 28 November 2007, the trust agreed to go ahead with proposals for the reconfiguration of its Emergency Operations Centres. WMAS now operates one of the most sophisticated dispatch systems in the country from two Emergency Operations Centres based at Millenium Point, Brierley Hill (Trust HQ) and Tollgate Drive, Stafford. They operate as a single virtual EOC so waiting calls at either of the Trusts two EOCs can be answered by the other. This increases the speed at which vehicles can be dispatched.


As of 2019, the trust had over 450 emergency ambulances with a similar number of non-emergency patient transport service vehicles.

  • 465 Double Crewed Emergency Response Ambulances
  • The Trust now only has a handful of Rapid Response Vehicles (all 4x4 capable) which are now mainly used by managers and specialist resources.
  • Patient Transport Service vehicles - these are non emergency-capable vehicles without Emergency Equipment fitted used for transporting patients to/from/between medical treatment facilities and patients home addresses. There is also a fleet of ‘high dependency’ vehicles that carry basic medical equipment including a defibrillator, oxygen and a basic heart monitor.
  • 31 Major Incident vehicles, used to support large-scale incidents where multiple ambulances may be overwhelmed or there is the requirement for a co-ordinated response across Emergency Response services.

In addition to the fleet, the Service has several specialist teams available should the requirement arise

  • The Medical Emergency Response Intervention Team (MERIT) are a Critical Care Paramedic and Trauma Doctor responding to emergencies in a Rapid Response Vehicle.
  • See Hazardous Area Response Team
  • The Trust does not use either voluntary aid societies such as St John and Red Cross or private ambulance.
  • WMAS can dispatch any of 3 air ambulances from the Midlands Air Ambulance Charity, carrying a specially trained doctor and critical care paramedic at all times. It also has access to both the Warwickshire & Northampton Air Ambulance and the Derbyshire, Leicestershire & Rutland Air Ambulance, both operated by The Air Ambulance Service
  • West Midlands Ambulance Service are supported by several BASICS-affiliated charities, who provide volunteer doctors and nurses to support the regular ambulance service staff at more serious incidents.
  • On some evenings and all weekends, support for front-line crews is provided by the West Midlands CARE Team. The CARE Team is a volunteer group of BASICS doctors and nurses, conveyed in a specially equipped fast response car by a paramedic officer to provide advanced medical care at the scene of an incident.
  • In Herefordshire and Worcestershire, the Mercia Accident Rescue Service (MARS) is available to supplement and assist WMAS crews.
  • North Staffordshire BASICS provide similar support in the north of the WMAS region.
  • In times of severe weather, WMAS also has the ability to call on the Severn Area Rescue Association who have 4x4 ambulances.[9]
  • WMAS can dispatch Community First Responder, who are volunteers working in partnership with WMAS, to medical emergencies in their local communities. These schemes are located all throughout the West Midlands, mostly located in rural areas where response times are longer.


Herefordshire and Worcestershire

The Trust operates Make already Hubs in Hereford, Worcester and Bromsgrove. There are also community stations in Leominster, Malvern, Evesham and Stourport.


There are make ready hubs in Shrewsbury and Donnington (Telford) with community stations in Bridgnorth, Craven Arms, Market Drayton & Oswestry.


There are make ready hubs in Stafford, Lichfield and Stoke-on-Trent With community sites in Biddulph, Uttoxeter and Leek.

Coventry & Warwickshire

There are make ready hubs in Warwick and Coventry with community ambulance stations in Rugby and Stratford-Upon-Avon.

Birmingham and the Black Country

There are two make ready hubs in the Birmingham area sited at Hollymoor, and Erdington.

The Black Country is served by make ready hubs in Dudley, Willenhall and West Bromwich.

In addition, the HART & MERIT base is sited in Oldbury.

See also

Other emergency medical services

Other emergency services



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