‘Closing stations puts lives at risk’

GAINSBOROUGh MP Edward Leigh has called for plans to close Gainsborough ambulance station to be halted.

And a local councillor claims the move would put lives at risk.

Both statements come after East Midlands Ambulance Service revealed plans to close 65 stations across the East Midlands region, 13 in Lincolnshire.

EMAS says most of its stations are empty ‘all day, every day’.

It wants to replace them with 131 ‘tactical deployment points’ where crews can rest and use the toilet.

A further 13 larger ‘hub stations’ will be created where ambulances can be cleaned and re-stocked.

The nearest hub to the Gainsborough station, on Corringham Road Industrial Estate, would be in Lincoln.

“The decision to close these stations could put lives at risk,” said county and district Coun Chris Underwood-Frost.

“It’s a disgrace that once again the tax payers of West Lindsey are paying big money for a service, but the NHS suits who get paid big wages have made a disgraceful decision. I hope the people of West Lindsey will resist this decision.”

MP Edward Leigh said the plans raised ‘serious questions’ about EMAS’ ability to respond to emergencies in the area, and that shutting Gainsborough ambulance station was ‘exceptionally unwise’.

“I understand very well the need to increase efficiency and pool resources,” said Mr Leigh.

“However the public need is the absolute priority, and the Gainsborough ambulance station provides vital services to those who live and work in the area.”

EMAS met on Monday to discuss the proposals before they go out for public consultation.

The estates strategy is part of wider proposals to cut costs and improve response times.

EMAS has the worst record in the whole country for meeting targets for the time it takes for an ambulance to arrive.

Only 84 per cent of incidents in Lincolnshire are attended by a double-crewed ambulance within the 19 minute target, 11 per cent shy of the 95 per cent national target.

EMAS chief executive Phil Milligan said the plans would deliver better performance and improve the service’s ability to respond to immediately life-threatening 999 calls.

“We will get to more people faster, enabling us to provide better patient care,” he said.

“We know residents have been concerned about our response times, we now have a plan to deliver long term, sustainable performance.”

Edward Leigh said it showed a need for decision making on vital services to be ‘further localised’.

He will write to EMAS urging them to keep Gainsborough ambulance station open.

“This is to the detriment of public health in our area,” he said.