Service chiefs ‘misleading us’

ON THE ROAD: Unison's campaign van has been touring Buxton to drive support for the campaign against ambulance station closures. NBUA 6-11-12- JC20.
ON THE ROAD: Unison's campaign van has been touring Buxton to drive support for the campaign against ambulance station closures. NBUA 6-11-12- JC20.

THE East Midlands Ambulance Service are “deliberately misleading” residents with their controversial plans to close ambulance stations in the High Peak, a union has claimed.

In their Being the Best review consultation document, the East Midlands Ambulance Service trust (EMAS) outline their top ten reasons for change, explaining why they are proposing to close ambulance stations across the East Midlands, and replace them with hubs or community ambulance posts.

These include the cost of major repairs to their current buildings and an increase in the number of 999 calls received.

But UNISON have said the plans will create a “postcode lottery of care”.

EMAS want crews to be available for patient care as soon as they come on duty, rather than spending the first 20-30 minutes of their shift carrying out vehicle checks – but UNISON say: “EMAS is deliberately misleading the public because there are five legal checks that are required by the driver and these checks can be done in five minutes – not 20-30 minutes as stated by EMAS. Where staff do not adhere to the checking/restocking process staff could be subject to disciplinary procedure.

“With the new proposals these checks will still need to be done. Currently this practice does not delay the despatch to emergency calls.

“With the closure of stations and reduction of the number of hubs this reduces the trust’s capability to keep vehicles on the road because they will have to travel further to restock.”

EMAS have also said that it needs to spend £13 million on its buildings.

But the union said: “UNISON can agree that there are some buildings in poor condition. Each year EMAS receives an estates budget (budget to maintain ambulance stations).

“What has EMAS been doing with the budget? It would be useful to know where the £13m figure has come from particularly as there are some community ambulance stations in excellent condition.

“UNISON believes EMAS has embarked on a scaremongering initiative to promote the decision for change.

“Can EMAS provide the evidence on a year-on-year breakdown of how the estate budget has been spent on the maintenance of community ambulance stations?”

The union has also criticised the trust’s claims that they are not changing the way they respond to 999 calls.

“Crews will be tied up in urban areas at the expense of rural areas and that costs lives,” UNISON said.