‘No assurance for Peak’

EYE OF THE STORM: Phil Milligan, Chief Executive of East Midlands Ambulance Service. Photo contributed.
EYE OF THE STORM: Phil Milligan, Chief Executive of East Midlands Ambulance Service. Photo contributed.

HIGH Peak residents had the chance to have their say on controversial proposals to close the area’s two ambulance stations last week.

Hundreds of people attended a public meeting in the Octagon at the Pavilion Gardens, where East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS) Chief Executive Phil Milligan was put on the spot over the trust’s contentious re-organisation plans.

Under their Being the Best Review, EMAS want to replace ambulance stations in Buxton and New Mills with community ambulance posts and hubs. If agreed, the plans will mean High Peak ambulance crews will have to travel to junction 29 of the M1 – the other side of Chesterfield – to pick up and drop off ambulances at the start and end of each shift.

The plans have been repeatedly condemned by local residents and councillors since being revealed in May – with many people calling for a hub to be based in the High Peak.

Mr Milligan told the meeting: “We’re here to listen. We are expecting to make some changes, especially in the High Peak, as a result of the comments we’ve already received.

“What we’re describing is a one-size fits all model which I know from the comments already expressed does need some improvement before we take the final plans to board in January next year, so it is really useful to me if as well pointing out areas you think must change, you could say the things that you think your ambulance service should keep in place.”

He added: “East Midlands Ambulance Service has not been the best. And that’s a dreadful indictment because your paramedics and emergency care practitioners have fantastic skills.

“It’s very rare for me to get complaints about the treatment that we have given and it’s rare for me to get a complaint about the attitude of a paramedic. The complaints we do get is that we take too long to get there, so there’s got to be some changes.”

And explaining where the ideas for the Being the Best review came from, Mr Milligan added: “I joined the East Midlands Ambulance Service in December last year and I had the opportunity, and my colleagues had the opportunity, to go around looking at other ambulance services and seeing how well they are doing and in short steal their ideas. Where somebody is doing something really good, we should look to steal their ideas rather than reinventing the wheel.

“Everything in the programme is being done successfully elsewhere.”

But despite repeated pressure from those present at the meeting, Mr Milligan refused to confirm that there would be a hub in the High Peak.

Responding to a question from High Peak Borough councillor John Faulkner, Mr Milligan said: “I’m not going to give an assurance there will be a hub in the High Peak. I will give an absolute assurance that we will study whether that is the right answer.

“If it is the right answer that is what we’ll do. We have and will take account of all the feedback we get and the consultation aims to ensure that whatever model is chosen, it is amended for local areas.”