Ambulance boss says change is necessary

East Midlands Ambulance Service

East Midlands Ambulance Service

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The man who unveiled the radical plans to close every ambulance station in the county except two has said making no change to the service is not an option.

After months of under-performance, East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS) announced proposals to close every station in Northamptonshire except Kettering and Northampton. These will be served by 18 strategically placed standby points in county towns.

Service chief executive Phil Milligan said: “What we want the public to recognise is that if they want a service that is responsive, then it has to change.

“Our ambulance stations remain empty throughout the day, there’s no sense in spending money on them.

“We have ambulances who stop at standby points already, but under these plans, they will be used extensively.

“We will place them strategically in Northamptonshire to best serve people.

“We’re using a tried and tested method that other ambulance services use, and I’m confident it will result in a five per cent increase in response times performance.”

Under the new plans, the standby points will take the form of booth-like units, or building shares with other emergency services.

These will have facilities in them for staff, while a specialist crew at the hubs will maintain the vehicles, a process which the service says will speed up response times.

Ambulances awaiting calls can stop at standby points to be directed to emergencies.

Corby, Wellingborough and Rushden ambulance stations could all close, but EMAS has said there will be no job losses.

An estimated £29m that is saved with the closures will be invested into the new hubs and standby points.

Campaigner Dorothy Maxwell, of Rushden, collected 3,700 signatures on a petition against the closure of the town station. She said: “I’m devastated. It will be a postcode lottery where some people get treated while others are left to die.”

Wellingborough MP Peter Bone has handed in Mrs Maxwell’s petition to Parliament.

He said: “There’s a suggestion Wellingborough station might be closed too, with a lot of people using the Isebrook Hospital. There’s an ambulance station next to the hospital so it doesn’t make sense to close it.”

Kettering MP Philip Hollobone said: “I don’t understand how reducing the number of bases ambulances go to will improve the service.”

If the plan is approved by the ambulance trust board it will then go out for public consultation.