West Midlands Ambulance Service University NHS Foundation Trust has been formally recognised as a leading digital trust after receiving accreditation from NHS England and NHS Improvement.

The trust was selected to take part in the Global Digital Exemplar programme and was one of two ambulance trusts involved.

As part of the programme, West Midlands launched a range of projects designed to enhance its digital capability. Once such project saw access to records for West Midlands’ clinicians whilst with patients altered. Records have been integrated with multiple platforms, which supports better decision making for clinicians thanks to information on diagnoses and treatments plans already in place. During 20/21, access to records when a crew attends a patient grew to 58.9%, against a national target of 5%.

West Midlands also worked to digitise its ‘make ready’ processes, that see vehicle preparation hubs prepare vehicles for their next shift. The process has moved from whiteboards and paper to a rolling digital screen, enabling crew to quickly identify their vehicle. This new way of working benefits both the garage and management teams, who can now update crew information remotely.

Operational support services, Craig Cooke, said: “We’re now recognised against an international standard of digital capability and maturity and being on of just two ambulance services in the country to achieve this accolade is very special.

“The team from NHS England and NHS Improvement were extremely complimentary about the trust’s determination to complete the GDE accreditation despite the pandemic pressures.”

Cooke also acknowledged that the process of working through the GDE programme will influence the trust’s future projects: “It has certainly impacted how we will deliver projects moving forward.”

The trust was formally confirmed as a Global Digital Exemplar in 2018. Having completed the GDE programme, West Midlands will join other qualified trusts, in sharing their learning and experiences through blueprints to guide other trusts through the same process.

Dermot Ryan, director of frontline digitisation at NHS England and NHS Improvement, said: “The team at West Midlands Ambulance Service are demonstrating how digital tools and access to data can help mitigate the challenges faced by the ambulance service – from access to patient records when a crew attends an emergency call, to streamlining vehicle preparation.

“The trust has driven real transformation of how they deliver services, which is improving the experience for patients and staff.”