Councillors push for two hub ambulance plan

By Harriet Ernstsons 25/05 Updated: 25/05 09:40

COUNCILLORS have urged emergency services staff to reconsider plans for a centralised ambulance hub.

Labour members met with the West Midlands Ambulance Service on Friday (May 18) to ask them to change plans to have two hubs, with the second located in Redditch.

Current proposals under the Make Ready scheme will see vehicles cleaned and prepared in Worcester, with paramedics travelling to the city at the start of their shift and then being dispersed across the county.

Three ambulance stations across the borough will act as bases for the staff on duty, with five community paramedics using a fast response car backing up the ambulance cover.

But councillors argued this was a 'downgrade' in service, saying a two hub model which has been implemented in other counties should also be used for Worcestershire.

Coun Rebecca Blake said: "Although Shropshire is twice as big in land mass, it is not nearly as dense and we have got nearly twice the population. I feel if Shropshire has two hubs that's what we should have.

"I am not convinced about the one hub model and do think it is a reduction in service for the people of Redditch.

"Having three locations in Redditch just seems to give the potential for a much worse service and I see it as an erosion of the service."

Coun John Fisher raised concerns over the travelling time between the hub in Worcester and stations in Redditch, which will include one on Studley Road. The trust is also looking at a base in Church Hill and at sharing the fire station on Birmingham Road.

"There is no direct route between Redditch and Worcester," he added.

"In principal there is no reason why these practices of taking the ambulances offline to clean them cannot be done at a borough level.

"When it rains, floods or snows the paramedics will not be able to get to Worcester. They cannot walk to Worcester through 14ft of snow. It also increases travel time and petrol which is an expensive resource."

But Dean Jenkins, project lead from the trust, assured councillors the scheme which is set to be introduced before March 2013 would be an enhancement rather than a downgrade of the service.

"We are taking the concept and tailoring it to meet the requirements of each area. We would be bankrupt if we put a hub in every town, we are just financially not able to do that.

"This operation model is proven since 1995 and does work. It will continue to be monitored after its introduction and if there is any reduction we would be challenged straightaway, with certain quick moves made to ensure the performance was not only maintained but improved.

"As a council you see it as a cutting of the level of service but it is not, it is an enhancement of the service."

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