Have you ever had something in your hands, put it down and then its disappeared? This is what happened to East Midlands Ambulance Service earlier this week.
On Monday afternoon they published their proposals for the future of ambulance service provision in the region. By Tuesday morning the document had disappeared from their website with ambulance station staff telling me that there were ‘typographical errors’ that needed correcting.
Now that the document is back online I am pleased to say that we have won the battle to keep Worksop and Gainsborough ambulance stations open. These were two stations that were lined up for closure in September and this turnaround is due to the community making clear that lives must not be put at risk.
However, the report proposes that Retford will have a ‘Community Ambulance Station’.
The report goes on to describe a Community Ambulance Station as a portable cabin with parking bays for up to two ambulances. It also states that Retford’s Community Ambulance Station will be twinned with the Worksop station. The report fails to clearly spell out what will happen to Retford ambulance station or where the new Community Ambulance Station will be sited or what the twinning relationship will be. Plans also include a proposal for a Community Ambulance Station in central Worksop which begs the question, what are their long term plans for the future of Worksop Ambulance Station?
EMAS are also proposing a Community Ambulance Station in Langold which will be good news for Carlton, Langold, Blyth and the surrounding villages.
My concerns are therefore focused on the ambulance provision for people living in the rural areas surrounding Retford. The report details proposals for a new Rural Community Paramedic Scheme that will provide the ‘initial response’ for people living in rural areas. These will be deployed in single staffed fast response vehicles and they will determine if an emergency ambulance should be called once they have made an assessment of the patient. EMAS intends to pilot this scheme in the Retford area from April onwards. Throughout the EMAS consultation I have argued against their proposals because they were trying to impose an urban solution onto our rural areas. Why don’t EMAS get it?
EMAS have called their proposals “Being the Best” and if this is the best that EMAS can offer then I continue to have concerns for the health and wellbeing of the people of Bassetlaw. We need clarity, commonsense and confidence and the report has some way to go before it can offer these for all of our residents.
You can read the report yourself by going to http://www.emas.nhs.uk/about-us/trust-board. EMAS will be considering the proposals on Monday 25th March at 10am at the Conference Centre, Kings Mill Hospital, Mansfield Road, Sutton in Ashfield, NG17 4JL. The public are invited to attend and I’m thinking of going along to make sure that Bassetlaw remains at the forefront of their thoughts and you are very welcome to join me there.
I was in Bassetlaw Council offices last week and I want to thank the staff for being so welcoming. It’s these people who are at the frontline working with the public which I appreciate that in these difficult times can be very stressful. This is especially when they are seeing at first hand the impact of the cuts and new charges that are being introduced as part of the national governments austerity measures.