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Black lady in paramedic uniform standing in front of an ambulance

Widening access and improving retention and career progression into the Paramedic Profession for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Groups within the West Midlands


Health Education England




Dr Amanda R A Adegboye

Project Team Members

Dr. Rosie Kneafsey

Dr Tracey Rehling

Dr Kim Staurt

Dr Gary Gilkes

Elicia Austin

Barbara Kozlowska

Dr Julia Carroll

Helen Wesson


West Midlands Ambulance Service (WMAS)

Project overview

Outside of London, the West Midlands has the largest non-White population (14%), only second behind London at 30% (ONS, 2012). 

West Midlands Ambulance Service (WMAS) NHS Foundation Trust successfully recruited 10% of their applicants from black and minority ethnic groups in 2011–2012 (West Midland Paramedic consortia research, 2017) but this fell to around 3% in 2012–2013 (Jabeen, 2012), then rose from 6.0% in 2019 to 9.8% in 2020 (WMAS, 2020). This is still not representative of the population that the organisation serves and is unsustained.

Students represent a pipeline for future professionals. Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic (BAME) students are underrepresented in paramedic science courses. Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) data suggests that in 2013/14, only 3.4% of paramedic learners with HEIs were from a Black or Minority Ethnicity (BME) background.

Rates of BAME students in the FdSc and BSc (Hons) Paramedic Science cohorts at CU reflects the national pattern of low levels of BAME students. Given our success in recruiting diverse students in other Allied Health Profession (AHP) courses such as occupational therapy, there is an opportunity to explore transferable learning to understand how to promote inclusive approaches to attract BAME learners into a paramedic career.

In addition to this, BAME staff who have been recruited need to be able to have confidence in the career progression process to empower them to become our current and future leaders. 

Strategic fit

The NHS People Plan 2020-21 aims to support the delivery of the NHS Long Term Plan and focuses on inclusion and diversity as one of its core pillars.

HEE too has made several key recommendations for increasing diversity within the paramedic profession.

Coventry University has a reputation for recruiting a diverse student population, with almost half of the total undergraduate population coming from BAME backgrounds, and this project supports an subject area where diversity is lower.

The NHS Workforce Race Equality Standards (WRES) aims to support organisations to close the gaps in work experience between White and BAME staff which this project supports.  

Project structure and overview

The project is divided into 3 workstreams to address access, retention and career progression as the 3 areas of concern. Each workstream employs an MRes student.

The project will develop and test access, retention and career progression initiatives with paramedics students and professionals.

Although we will initially focus on the West Midlands the project will generate transferable learning and we are actively engaging with East Midland Ambulance Services (EMAS).

Project objectives

  • Increase continuation rates arising from an asset-based approach to the curriculum. 
  • Upskill a cohort of WMAS paramedic staff for project work and research activities. 
  • Build awareness of the lack of ethnic representation and career progression in the paramedic profession in the whole region.
  • Establishe a leadership network that will provide a platform to share and voice any structural and professional or personal influences upon career progression and leadership. 

Impact statement

  • Creates an inclusive and decolonised curriculum. 
  • Promotes of an inclusive, safe, and supportive environment where everybody feels heard. 
  • Improves leadership opportunities to BAME paramedics and career progression.
  • Supports progression into practice/leadership/teaching/research. 
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