The public consultation by East Midlands Ambulance Service about closing its ambulance stations is be examined by a specialist health panel.
Lincolnshire Health Scrutiny Committee wrote to the Secretary of State for Health Jeremy Hunt with concerns over Emas’ consultation, which was held in the autumn. Following the consultation, Emas opted to go ahead with plans to close ambulance stations across the county and replace them with nine central hubs, 19 smaller stations and 108 community ambulance posts.
The Lincolnshire health scrutiny committee, made up of eight county and seven district councillors, decided to write to Mr Hunt (Con) in March.
The matter has now been referred to the Independent Reconfiguration Panel for an initial assessment. The panel is made up of members with wide ranging expertise in clinical healthcare, NHS management, public and patient involvement and in delivering successful health service change. It reviews contested proposals for NHS service change and advises the Government.
Chairman of the Health Scrutiny Committee for Lincolnshire Coun Christine Talbot (Con) said: “The committee have had concerns over the performance of Emas for a long time, and this referral was specifically made as we didn’t feel they had carried out adequate consultation on their Being the Best proposals.
“Emas have been fined for the third year running for failing to meet response times and we have no confidence that closing ambulance stations will improve this situation in Lincolnshire.
“Although it has taken the Secretary of State eight weeks to respond, I am pleased that the Independent Reconfiguration Panel will now be looking into our concerns and are carrying out an initial assessment.”
The panel will submit its initial assessment advice on this referral to the Secretary of State by June 28.
There are two possible outcomes from an panel’s initial assessment - either a recommendation that a full review is undertaken, or a recommendation that a full review is not needed but should be resolved locally.
In this area, one of the smaller stations will be in Market Deeping. Existing ambulance stations in Stamford and Oakham will close and be replaced by community ambulance posts in the towns. The ambulance station in Bourne will also close and be replaced by a community ambulance post in Morton.
Community ambulance posts are small buildings where crews can change shifts and could be attached to other buildings such as fire stations, police stations and council buildings. The exact locations of the community ambulance posts is still being discussed.