A paramedic has criticised his employer’s plans to replace ambulance stations with standby points, saying it will reduce cover in rural areas.
East Midlands Ambulance Service is consulting on plans to close its 66 ambulance stations, including those in Stamford, Bourne and Oakham, and replace them with 118 community posts and standby points.
Paramedics would begin and end their shifts at one of seven new hubs, with the nearest to the Mercury area in Sleaford and Leicester.
One Emas paramedic who has operated in the Stamford, Bourne and Rutland area for much of his career has serious concerns about the plans.
The paramedic, who asked not to be named, said: “Our main fear is that the ambulance would only go into the area as the 999 call comes in.
“There has not been an ambulance serving the Stamford or Oakham area alone for years. We are getting absorbed into other areas.
“We used to have borders which we would go across only if there was a problem. Now every controller can see every ambulance.
“We are interested in our local community because that’s who we serve. Local crews help the patient experience. You have things in common and the conversation is easier.
“When there is an ambulance locally we are hitting response times. When you are pulled into the bigger picture you don’t get them. ”
Emas admits it is performing poorly and says it wants to improve response times within its existing budget.
The service says the new standby points would allow crews to rest between calls.
And the hubs would allow dedicated maintenance and cleaning crews to operate from one location. Emas says this would mean more ambulances could be on the road.
But the paramedic who spoke to the Mercury said the hubs would increase travelling times for staff.
He also said Emas was tackling the problem of poor response times the wrong way.
He added: “What they should be doing is going back to funding organisations and saying that the programme is all wrong. They should be looking at postcode areas or locations and seeing how they are doing in each.
“The cost implications with a smaller service is too much. But they need to rethink the borders.
“Don’t think of it as counties. Look at geographical areas. Treat rural areas on a different plan to the urban ones.”
The consultation runs until December 17.