Health chiefs make final decision on county’s ambulance services

editorial image

Kettering will house the only fully-equipped ambulance station in north Northamptonshire, after the plans were approved by the East Midlands Ambulance Service board.

Members made the final decision at a board meeting today, Monday.

Kettering will become a ‘hub station’ and serve the northern half of the county, with 11 more standby points across the area.

In the south of the county, Northampton North station is set to be upgraded to a ‘hub’ complete with a workshop and Brackley station will also be an upgraded station minus the workshop.

Deployment standby points will also be in a further 11 points across the south of the county.

The confirmation of the plans come after a three-month public and staff consultation last year on the ‘Being the Best’ plans, which EMAS said would help improve response times to emergency 999 calls.

East Midlands Ambulance Service chief executive Phil Milligan said: “Today our Trust Board met to discuss the final recommendation put forward for our ‘Being the Best’ change programme. This programme sets out how we will improve response times across the East Midlands and ensure that we are providing the right care. The changes will be better for staff, with more support and time to care for patients – not vehicles.

“The final recommendation was created after three months of consultation, and a further two-and-a-half months of engagement allowing our staff and the public including other healthcare providers, councillors and MPs, to have their say and help to shape our plans.

“The way we operate now is simply not delivering the performance that local people deserve and national government expects.

“The aim of our ‘Being the Best’ programme has always been to improve response times to emergency 999 calls and to improve the working lives of our frontline staff.

“The changes we have approved at our Trust Board meeting today will improve performance on life-threatening calls by nearly four per cent. People suffering a serious illness or injury can also expect to receive a faster response. These changes are on top of our announcement last week of 140 more frontline posts and a £120,000 investment in community defibrillators. Far from cutting costs, as has been the claim by some, EMAS is investing in public safety and frontline crews.

“Moving to a hub-and spoke-model means that ambulances will be deployed more efficiently and will be nearer to patients.

“How do we know this? It’s an approach that’s already been successful in the rural south-west as well as the more urban West Midlands.

“This is not all about the bricks-and-mortar of ambulance stations - many of which were built on assumptions more than 50-years old.

“We have approved plans to introduce nine hubs, 19 ambulance stations and 108 community ambulance stations. Having ambulances at Community Ambulance Stations means that we can serve patients better.

“Clinicians will be supported by Make Ready teams based at each hub and ambulance station to clean and stock our emergency vehicles, thereby allowing our skilled crews to get out on the road faster to respond to calls and ensuring that they have the right equipment with them.

“The introduction of community ambulance stations will mean crews no longer have to return to large urban-centre ambulance stations and will be less likely to be drawn away from more rural areas. Indeed, we have also announced a trial of community paramedic schemes – which will see paramedics ring-fenced to a rural area, ensuring a local presence.

“This is a five year plan and changes to our estate will not be immediate.

“We will use the next three to six months of the new financial year to progress our planning and implementation of the 108 community ambulance stations, twinning of the proposed existing ambulance stations and further development of the estate strategy.

“We believe that these changes will improve response times and our aims of better patient care, faster responses and improved working lives for our staff will be achieved.”