More cash needed for ambulances

By Ian Dipple Thursday 23 January 2014 Updated: 24/01 16:24

MORE money will need to be ploughed into the ambulance service in order to make the changes to Worcestershire’s hospitals work.

Anthony Marsh, head of West Midlands Ambulance Service, said he broadly supported the proposals put forward by the independent clinical panel but there would be an impact on the service which would need to be paid for.

The centralisation of inpatient paediatric and consultant-led maternity services at the Alex into Worcester will result in more transfers and longer travelling times resulting in the need for more ambulances and crews.

That is likely to pose a challenge to commissioners who over the next two years will only see modest increases in their budgets.

Mr Marsh said the service’s current funding was already ‘fragile’ and an independent review was underway to look at the gap between what they were paid and what they were being asked to deliver. The final report is due in March.

Mr Marsh said the impact of the hospital proposals could either be fed into that review or dealt with separately but he had no idea how much would be needed as detailed work regarding demand and patient movements had yet to be completed.

“We can’t provide this without additional resources, there’s no way we would accommodate the additional travelling times and additional transfers, and we have communicated that to the review board,” he told a meeting of Worcestershire County Council’s Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee on Wednesday (January 22).

Graham Vickery, who represents Redditch North, warned with question marks over funding for the ambulance service and the ability of Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust to pay for the proposals, there was a danger services would be reduced further than outlined.

But David Williams, director of operations and delivery at NHS England, has indicated potentially there could be money available to support the reconfiguration although he said there would be ‘no blank cheque’.

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