Station axe defended

THE controversial decision to close 12 of Nottinghamshire’s 13 ambulance stations — including the one off Annesley Road, Hucknall — has been defended by the chief executive of the East Midlands Ambulance Service, Phil Milligan.

He claimed that keeping ‘empty stations’, which were in need of investment, was stopping the service from performing at its best.

The closed stations are to be replaced by one in Nottingham and one at Sutton-in-Ashfield. Ambulances will then be stationed at 22 stand-by points.

Mr Milligan said paramedics would be ‘freed up’ to deal with life-threatening calls, as the service’s trust board would send other medical staff to deal with less urgent calls.

At a meeting of the trust board, Mr Milligan conceded that the service had not achieved performance targets for the past three years. He said he was getting ‘too many letters’ about patients being kept waiting more than an hour for an ambulance, which was an ‘embarrassment’.

Mr Milligan described the stations earmarked for closure as ‘inefficient’ and said it would cost £13 million to bring them up to National Health Service standards.

A formal consultation, giving members of the public and ambulance staff a chance to voice their views on the plans, is due to start in September. The proposals will then be finalised for the start of 2013.