The government wants public services to demonstrate efficiency, effectiveness and value for money. One way to achieve this is to change the governance model; placing the fire and rescue services under the democratically elected office of the police and crime commissioner. The other is to create a duty to collaborate that brings a sharp focus to joint working. The Policing and Crime Bill is the vehicle to achieve both.
These changes have to be seen against a backdrop of diverging levels of demand, where fires have reduced but the Ambulance Service has never been busier.
There has been plenty of discussion about how the Fire and Rescue Service can work with the Ambulance Service and other parts of the health and social care sector to improve health outcomes. There is less said about how the police can work with the Fire and Rescue Service to improve community safety or indeed about how the police can work differently with the Ambulance Service.
The duty to collaborate reinforces the need for joint working and much can be learned from the approaches taken by national programmes like JESIP and the National Operational Guidance Programme.
The time for lectures on collaboration is over: what is needed now is the time and space to consider what a new operating model for the emergency services might look like We are now in a world where the old model of the three emergency services working in silos is increasingly irrelevant. The emergency services are at a crucial turning point in terms of how they work together. If the models of governance are changing, then should not the way we deliver the service change too?
We'd really like to hear what you think of these hugely important issues - the topics are central to the lives of all the people working in the emergency services - and beyond. Come along to FIRE’s Congress: Reimagining the Emergency Services: From integrated governance to integrated service delivery will take place at West Midlands Fire Service HQ on November 15. Have your say on the changes that are happening in your service.