Three northern ambulance trusts form alliance “that will improve efficiencies”

Three ambulance trusts have joined forces to form an alliance across the North of England.

Announcing the launch of the Northern Ambulance Alliance, the North East, North West and Yorkshire Ambulance Service Trusts say the collaboration will help to improve the efficiency of ambulance services in the North of England.

They said the arrangement meant they could “look at efficiency through joint procurement exercises, major changes to IT, assessing specialist expertise and learning from each other’s achievements.”

Referring to the new link-up, Derek Cartwright, chief executive of North West Ambulance Service, said:

“The NAA will work within the existing structure of organisations and their legal frameworks.

The boards of all three trusts will still have responsibility for their individual service, but will also consider the work and objectives of the NAA when making decisions.”

The three services said they were already seeing the benefits of collaborating more closley with police and fire and rescue “with tangible benefits to patient outcomes and staff safety.”

A statement issued by the new NAA said the move was not a merger, but “an attempt by all three organisations to work closer together to standardise care, identify savings through collaborative procurement and be better placed to tackle the fast moving change agenda.”

The trusts emphasised that the alliance meant “the creation of a body that will facilitate greater collaboration and realise benefits individual Trusts are unlikely to be able to achieve on their own.”

Regarding any potential threat to jobs, the Northern Ambulance Alliance stated:

“There are no direct staff consequences. It may well mean in the future that the three organisations consider joint appointments or shared working for new roles and replacements.”

Joint procurement exercises and major changes to IT systems will take place, and specialist expertise will be shared across the region.

Rod Barnes, Chief Executive of Yorkshire Ambulance Service described it as a ‘great opportunity’ that will be ‘for the benefit of patients.’

“This is a great opportunity to explore how we can deliver the improvements expected from the ambulance service within existing resources and for the benefit of patients.

This might mean the procurement of a single agreed vehicle specification for all three services, identifying savings through the standardisation of maintenance and equipment contracts, which is something that has proved elusive at a national level.”

Terms of reference are being drawn up to establish an NAA board, involving the chairs and chief executives of each organisation meeting in private, to focus on strategic objectives. Discussions will also take place to decide if some decisions will be binding on all members.

Performance and quality standards will continue to be assessed and monitored separately but the NAA hopes the joint arrangements could allow them to access transformational funding collectively. Financial gains and risks from resulting changes will be shared across the three organisations.

The creation of the alliance was signed off by the boards of all three trusts this week.