A PUBLIC consultation asking High Peak residents for their views on controversial plans to close two ambulance stations in the borough has been launched this week.
Under its Being the Best review, East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS) wants to replace its current 66 ambulance stations with 13 “hubs” which will have better facilities – and improve response times, which have been criticised in the past.
The plans would see ambulance stations in Buxton and New Mills among those which would be replaced with Community Ambulance Posts and Standby Points, supported by state-of-the-art purpose-built Hubs or ‘Super Stations’.
Community Ambulance Posts will be in police, fire or other healthcare and partners’ existing buildings. Ambulance crews can be posted there ready to respond to calls and use the rest facilities.
It is proposed that there should be 131 Community Ambulance Posts, Standby Points and Hubs – large ‘super stations’ where ambulance crews will start their shift, collect a fully-equipped, well-maintained vehicle, and be a base for clinical and support staff.
EMAS Chief Executive Phil Milligan said: “We are committed to being the best ambulance service we can be, and we know that we need to fundamentally improve the way we work to achieve this.
“We must ensure that we spend our limited resources in making our frontline services the best they can be, rather than on updating old buildings that are not fit for the future.”
Dr James Gray, EMAS Medical Director, added: “Our current buildings are in need of major repairs and refurbishment, with an estimated cost of £13 million needed to put them right.
“Our emergency ambulance vehicles are our mobile emergency treatment centres. We don’t provide medical care at our stations. The more money we can spend on our vehicles and our frontline colleagues, the better.”
But High Peak MP Andrew Bingham said: “I met with EMAS last week to ensure they’re aware that I think their proposals for the High Peak are ridiculous, and I am doing everything I can to urge them to think again and at the very least, have an extra hub based here in the High Peak.
“I pointed out the big void on their map where there is, in my opinion, no adequate cover.
“I hope that when they put their final proposals to their board in January they will have made some sensible alterations.
“I would urge everyone across the High Peak to take part in the consultation process. The plans as they stand would lead to serious emergencies across our area, especially in winter as ambulances try to get here from Chesterfield.”
* Copies of the consultation document are available at www.emas.nhs.uk, by emailing email@example.com, by calling 0800 917 9911 or from public meetings which will be held. The consultation runs until December 17.