THE Trust that runs ambulance services in Hereford and Worcester will merge with Staffordshire Ambulance Service in October.

The Board of Staffordshire Ambulance Service has voted to support a proposal that would see the Trust merge with the West Midlands Ambulance Service on October 1.

The planned date was put forward after the two Trusts were asked to come up with a definite timetable and formal date for merger by the West Midlands Strategic Health Authority (SHA).

The Secretary of State for Health wrote to the two Trusts in July 2006 - shortly after West Midlands Ambulance Service was formed after a merger of Hereford and Worcester, West Midlands and Coventry and Warwhickshire Ambulance Trusts - announcing that they would merge, but at a time that was to be agreed locally.

The two Trusts have been working in partnership to develop and improve services and to ensure that clinical, operational and management arrangements are consistent and compatible.

At the meeting today (Thursday) Staffordshire Ambulance Service Chairman, Robert Lake said: "I recommended that my Board approve the merger timetable for a number of reasons.

"It is clear that the two Trusts are operating at a similar level of performance and are now the top two performing services in the country in terms of response targets. Where there are areas of difference the gap is closing rapidly and there are action plans in place to ensure that change continues.

"Joint leadership and the sharing of best practice across both Trusts has been a key part of this turnaround in both organisations. The West Midlands has introduced working practices that have proven successful in Staffordshire and vice versa. It is a two way process."

"The Partnership Board recognised that there are now more reasons to merge than there are not to and we therefore felt that we needed to complete the process of bringing the two Trusts together on the October 1, 2007."