AMBULANCE stations are at risk of closure as part of a radical programme designed to turn the region’s under-performing ambulance service into the best in the country.
East Midlands Ambulance Service is set to ditch its current model of 65 stations and replace it with a fewer number of hubs supported by smaller stations and mobile standby sites.
Although a report recommending the changes has not yet been compiled, it is thought there will be between 10 and 14 hubs where paramedics will sign in for their shifts.
The ambulance crews will then operate from a selection of existing stations, shared agency bases and deployment points.
Chief executive Phil Milligan presented the “hub and spokes” plan at an extraordinary meeting at the service’s headquarters in Nottingham yesterday.
He said the proposal would be put to staff and the public for consultation and, if approved, would take at least three years to roll out.
He said: “The bottom line is that for the vast majority of the day many of the stations are left empty as crews are out.
“The current stations do not allow us to provide the quality of care we want and many need a lot of work.
“Our plan would mean that when someone calls for an ambulance, and they really need one, they will have more chance of getting one more quickly.
“This is about making the service better for patients – we are not undermining the service. We know that we’ve been under-performing and this is about getting it right.”
Mr Milligan said despite the station closures the number of locations the service operated from would be ‘likely to remain constant’.
In an attached report to the meeting, the service said most of its stations were in bad condition with many in poor locations and too big.
To bring the service’s existing estate up to NHS standards it would cost £13m.
Mr Milligan said: “I think we can become the best ambulance service.
“We need to manage our staff well, be well organised and have a clear vision about what we are doing for the future.
“Having seen the level of commitment and passion by our staff, I’m confident we can achieve that.”
The proposal will be unveiled in July before being put out to consultation.