Ambulance stations are under threat

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THE proposed closure of ambulance stations in Brackley and Towcester will be yet another erosion of services, according to a retired paramedic.

This week the East Midlands Ambulance Service NHS Trust announced recommendations to tackle missed response time targets and cost saving measures which could see the end of the stations at Brackley Library, in Manor Road, and the station at Towcester Police Station, in Watling Street.

Instead ambulance staff will operate from two service hubs, with one in Northampton, capable of servicing and restocking vehicles, and 131 tactical deployment points, which may have toilet and dining facilities connected to police or fire stations, but could also be a layby or car park.

EMAS say the changes are clinically led and will see response times improve by five per cent. They say the stations are often empty and are the subject of a costly maintanence programme which could be scrapped.

But Brackley resident David Saunders, a retired ambulance driver, said it would be an inconvenience to staff and represented yet another erosion of the service.

Mr Saunders remembers there being a station in Manor Road since 1967 and said: “As far as management goes it’s a brilliant move, they’re cutting costs and improving response times with crews out in the district somewhere. But as far as staff go, I should think it’ll be a pain in the backside. They’ll be sat in the vehicles eating their lunch during a long shift.”

Mr Saunders said the service was damaged by the move to trusts which had seen a constant reduction in the staffing and vehicles in the district.

Jonathan Fox, spokesman for the Association of Professional Ambulance Personnel, said with paramedics facing the second year of a pay freeze, and increased pension contributions, the changes did not take into account their welfare.

He said: “Of course we want ambulance trusts like EMAS to plan for an efficient service so we get to patients more quickly. But trusts should also be considering the welfare of their staff.”

If approved there will be a public consultation in September.