“I BELIEVE the ambulance service is the jewel in the crown of the NHS.”
These are the words of the man who is set to take over as Chairman of West Midlands Ambulance Service as the Trust moves into a new decade.
Professor Ian Cumming is due to take up his new position on April 1 when he retires from his current role of Chief Executive of Health Education England – the education and training organisation for the NHS.
His career in the NHS spans 38 years; originally training as a research scientist, before spending 25 years as an NHS Chief Executive. He has worked in hospitals, commissioning services and as Chief Executive of the NHS in the West Midlands in 2009.
Professor Cumming said: “I have had a personal interest in pre-hospital care for many years. The ambulance service meets people at a time when they are arguably at their most vulnerable.
“We are there when people need us with staff who are highly skilled and trained professionals. Not only are we handling physical injuries and illness, our staff are at the forefront of dealing with emergency care for people with mental health and social care issues.
“Because of that, the ambulance service has to be a fundamental part of the caring and compassionate NHS that we seek to provide for all citizens of this country.
“WMAS already has a real focus on keeping the Trust at forefront of developing patient care and I am looking forward to helping them continue that journey. There aren’t many ambulance services that come close to what WMAS achieves, but we need to be looking to the future and staying ahead of the curve.
“As we move into the 2020s, we need to be innovating and looking to harness the power of new technology such as the true integration of 111 and 999 services but also looking at better links between emergency and non-emergency ambulance services.
“We also need to look at the ‘internet of things’ so that we can automatically connect people’s houses through to our systems so that we know when somebody may be in difficulty even if no-one is able to contact us themselves.
“There is no doubt that the next decade will be one of real change for the ambulance service and the NHS with the growth of technology and integration.
“I think we will see ambulance services move into the delivery of mobile health care in people’s homes whether a blue light response or more routine elective type care.
“We already have highly skilled staff such as our paramedics along with the vehicles and infrastructure to be able to respond to the needs of the population.
“It is an exciting time and I can’t wait to join at the end of March.”