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Fears for 999 base


Fears are mounting that ambulances from Newark could be moved to Ollerton.

The East Midlands Ambulance Service’s estates director, Anne Allen, assured the Advertiser yesterday that there were no plans to close the Newark base.

Well-placed sources say that at a meeting in Retford on Wednesday, it was revealed that ambulance sites around the county were being valued, to discover their worth for housing.

The sources said the future of the stations at Newark and West Bridgford was being questioned.

They said bases at Retford and Worksop would close, but they would be replaced by a new station between the two towns. West Bridgford was also under threat, it was stated.

Senior staff from the county’s ambulance bases were called to the Retford meeting.

Service chiefs are reported to believe that any problems caused by moving ambulances from Newark would be eased by keeping fast-response paramedics in roadside cars.

One well-placed source said there were suggestions that Newark ambulances could be based at Ollerton.

The source said ambulances at Ollerton would be ineffective in serving Newark and paramedics who summoned an ambulance already had to wait up to 45 minutes.

“There isn’t a paramedic in the service that thinks this will work,” said the source.

“Purely and simply the town cannot run with just first responders.

“There will be no cover. It is all about cutting costs and lives will be at risk.”

Another insider expressed genuine shock.

The source said that in the past the station had always been safe from cuts because it was close to many dangerous major roads and the East Coast mainline.

Anne Allen said in her statement: “We are reviewing our estates plans to ensure that we are able to continue to provide the best service for our patients in the future and support government policy.”

She said the review would be made public in the near future.

“I can categorically say that there are definitely no plans to close Newark’s ambulance station.”

East Midlands Ambulance Service covers Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Rutland.

There has been concern in the past when Newark ambulances have been sent to other areas, and, on at least one occasion, an emergency call in Newark is said to have been answered by a crew from Melton Mowbray.

The idea of moving an emergency service to Ollerton was tried by the police, who relocated all of the fast-response drivers in Newark and Sherwood to the village.

Rank and file officers told the Advertiser at the time that the system could not work, as at shift changeover times there would be no response available, as officers would be travelling to or from their base.

Too much time would also be lost in prisoner transfers.

The force’s management admitted after a few months that the fears were well founded, and the drivers returned to the Newark and Southwell stations.

In 1993 Newark Ambulance Station had 32 full-time staff, and six ambulances.

Fifteen years later, there are two ambulances and one fast-response car.

There are about 30 staff, all of whom are paramedics and technicians, except three patients’ transport service drivers.

The plan to move the station to Ollerton follows the Advertiser’s revelation that the county council secretly decided to resite almost all of its Newark service bases to the village this year.

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