Proposals to merge the region’s ambulance services

South Western Ambulance Service and Great Western Ambulance Service intend to look at merging by October 2012.

A move is underway to form a single ambulance service to cover the entire South West, from Gloucestershire down to Cornwall.

Great Western Ambulance Service has announced it is working with South Western Ambulance Service to explore the creation of a partnership by October 2012.

Great western announced in August that because it was “not viable” for it to become an NHS Foundation Trust it was seeking a partner to join forces with in order to improve patient care for the future.

No details have as yet been released as to how the new trust would operate or what if any implications there would be for staffing levels across the two organisations, which between them employ almost 4,000 people.

In a statement released today (Friday) it was announced Ken Wenman, chief executive officer of SWAST will become the interim CEO for GWAS on November 1. Jennie Kingston, currently SWAST deputy CEO and director of finance and performance, will be appointed acting CEO at SWAST.

GWAS chairman, Peter Carr, who has been leading the search for a partner, said the move would bring benefits of combined resources and “will provide more capacity to improve and innovate.”

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He added: “As one of the first ambulance trusts to become a Foundation Trust, SWAST has already proven itself to be a strong and successful organisation.”

Mr Wenman also welcomed they move and said he was looking forward to working with GWAS staff, building on their hard work and helping them to prepare for the future.

“We share the same aims and values and together our strong focus on improving care for patients will result in a service that represents better value for money for our commissioners and safe, high quality care for our patients,” he said.

Great Western Ambulance Service currently covers Wiltshire, Gloucestershire, the greater Bristol area, and parts of Somerset, employing more than 1,680 staff across 33 operational sites.

South Western Ambulance Service covers parts of Dorset and Somerset, Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, with more than

2,000 staff on the payroll.

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