Axe for ambulance stations will ‘put more lives at risk’

SET FOR CLOSURE -- the Hucknall ambulance station run by East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS) off Annesley Road -- DISPIC NHUD12-1917-2
SET FOR CLOSURE -- the Hucknall ambulance station run by East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS) off Annesley Road -- DISPIC NHUD12-1917-2

LIVES could be put at risk by far-reaching plans to axe nearly every ambulance station in Nottinghamshire — including the one off Hucknall’s Annesley Road, it has been claimed.

Twelve of the county’s 13 stations are earmarked for closure by the East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS).

These will be replaced by just two ‘super-stations’ — one in the centre of Nottingham and the other on the present King’s Mill site at Sutton-in-Ashfield.

EMAS chief executive Phil Milligan said the changes will leave the service ‘on the road to becoming the best in the country’.

But Corrall Jenkins, regional organiser of the Unison union, which represents paramedics, claimed: “Patients will suffer. The plans are flawed. This move has the potential to cost lives’.

She added: “This is a panic, knee-jerk move by EMAS and we are planning to meet with bosses to ask for changes.”

The new stations will enable vehicles to be serviced, filled up with petrol and cleaned. This means that when paramedics turn up for work, they can get straight on the road and start answering calls instead of having to carry out vehicle maintenance.

Each ambulance in Nottinghamshire will be taken to one of 22 strategically-located standby points, where they will wait for calls to come in. These could be in supermarket car parks or outside pubs.

EMAS hopes to raise £29.8 million by selling off its stations in the East Midlands and it will spend most of the money on building 13 ‘super-stations’, including the two in Nottinghamshire.

Jim Radburn, chairman of the Carers In Hucknall group, said: “If we are to get these changes, they need to be properly done and the ambulances must remain locally available. Let’s hope that any problems which could arise are sorted out before they actually happen.

“The bottom line is that an ambulance needs to get to where it is needed as quickly as possible.”

Hucknall’s Conservative MP, Mark Spencer, said: “Having looked at these proposals in detail, I don’t think they are as alarming as they might appear at first glance.

“It will certainly be an improvement if paramedics can start on their jobs straight away instead of having responsibility for servicing of vehicles.”

Mr Spencer said EMAS had consistently missed its target for responding to the most serious of emergency calls for the past three years, while its ambulance stations needed £12.5 million spent on them to bring them up to scratch.

“If the changes tackle both these issues, they will have been justified,” he said. “It is very important that they do succeed because you cannot experiment with people’s lives.”

John McGrath, a paramedic with EMAS, is thinking of a petition to keep more of the stations open.