Resident pleads to keep ambulance station
12:00pm Thu Oct 18, 2012
A Newark resident pleaded with the chief executive of East Midlands Ambulance Service to listen to the people of the town.
Janet Hufton approached EMAS boss Phil Milligan after its public consultation meeting on radical changes proposed to the ambulance service and said: “Will you be the first service to listen to the people in Newark?
“Don’t be like every other organisation and consult and then take our services away.
“Please don’t take our ambulance station away.”
Mr Milligan replied: “It will be a moral judgment. We will provide you with a better service.”
Tuesday’s meeting in the Town Hall, attended by about 35 people, among them past and present EMAS staff, heard overwhelmingly that Newark, with its major road and rail networks and projected growth, should have one of the proposed super stations or hubs.
EMAS plans to scrap 66 stations, including Newark, and replace them with 13 main hubs, or super stations, and 131 community standby points.
In his presentation, the assistant director of operations at EMAS, Richard Henderson, said: “We recognise we have not been meeting our (response) targets.”
Mr Henderson said many ambulance stations were more than 50 years old and empty during the day, and investment was required in frontline services over bricks and mortar.
He said standby points would not necessarily be in lay-bys, and could be at police or fire stations or the premises of healthcare providers.
Two hubs are proposed for Nottinghamshire — one in Nottingham and one at King’s Mill Hospital, Sutton-in-Ashfield.
Mr Henderson said computer-mapping put standby points and, therefore, ambulances, close to where they would be needed.
However, Mr Milligan said he expected the proposals to change as a result of the consultation and a refining of the questions asked of the computer programme.
He said later a hub in Newark could not be ruled out.
Ambulances will be maintained and stocked at the hubs, work currently done by crews at the start and end of shifts when they could be responding to call-outs.
EMAS estimates it would make £29m from the sale of its land and stations, but spend £28.5m building the replacement hubs.
It would cost £13m to upgrade the current estate. The service must save £6m next year.
A former leading paramedic with EMAS, Mr David Moore, of Newark, admitted the town’s station on Queen’s Road was inadequate, but said the location was ideal for a replacement.
He said the hospital was no good because of the heavy traffic flow at the entrance.
Other concerns included: no detail on the standby point maps in the consultation document; ambulances failing to reach rural standby points because they would be diverted to calls en route; the length of time it would take to drive them to and from the standby points from the hubs; and crews from other counties filling in with no local knowledge.
Mrs Sue Saddington is the chairman of the county council’s northern health scrutiny committee, which covers healthcare in Newark and Sherwood, Bassetlaw, and Mansfield and Ashfield.
After the meeting she said: “I don’t think any of us who came here tonight has learnt anything. We are not going away thinking we will get a better ambulance service.
“We have heard no specifics. The only plus point is that they seem willing to listen so I would encourage everyone to take part in the consultation.”
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