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Plans to close ambulance stations are put on hold

Ambulance

Ambulance

Plans to close ambulance stations across the area, including the base in Stamford, have been put on hold while a solution to missed response targets is found.

East Midlands Ambulance Service, known as Emas, will focus on improving response times before implementing wide-ranging changes to its service.

New chief executive Sue Noyes said she planned to review proposals to close the majority of ambulance stations in the area, including those in Stamford, Bourne and Oakham.

The decision came after Emas was heavily criticised for missing response targets for the third year running. Last year the service was fined £3.5m as a result.

Stamford Town Council has invited Mrs Noyes to explain her plans to improve response times at an upcoming meeting. Stamford town councillor Maureen Jalili (non-aligned) said she was pleased the station closures were being put back while response times were being addressed.

She added: “I think it’s a very good move to put the plan on hold. The actions were quite contentious and until the new chief executive has an opportunity to assess the service it is very difficult to know.

“She will be able to see whether the steps they had put in place have been successful. I think it is a good idea that the whole situation is looked at again.”

Under its “Being the best” scheme, Emas had planned to close the majority of its ambulance stations and create nine central hubs, 19 stations and 108 smaller community ambulance posts in a bid to improve response times. Stations in Stamford and Oakham would have been “twinned” with the counterparts in Bourne and Melton respectively, until new stations were built in Market Deeping and Melton Mowbray.

Staff from Stamford and Oakham would travel to their twinned stations to start their shifts, picking up their vehicles and then either responding to a 999 call or moving to a ‘strategic stand-by point’ and awaiting their next call.

Once the new stations were built, the old ones in Stamford, Bourne and Oakham would close.

More than 1,000 people signed a petition to save the Bourne station, in South Road, to no avail. Town councillor Brenda Johnson, who started the petition, said it was “fantastic” that the closures had been put on hold.

She added: “The longer we can keep our ambulance station open, the better.

“If they put one in Market Deeping they will need to build it. How that can make things get better I don’t know.

“It’s extremely important that they get response times right before they start rebuilding properties and moving things around. It’s more important that they get the ambulance to the places they need to be quicker.

“It’s about whether they can get to the people that need them in a reasonable amount of time and they are not doing that.”

Mrs Noyes said the decision to put the estates strategy on hold would allow the service to concentrate on improving patient care and managing winter pressures.

She added: “We are continuing to introduce community ambulance stations across the East Midlands, through working in partnership with other emergency services, NHS and local authority providers, and we are planning to have many of these implemented by this summer.

“Following the pause in our longer term estates strategy, we are now reviewing the position, to ensure that our future plans will allow us to deliver the better patient care that we want to provide.”

 

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