STAFF working for the East Midlands Ambulance Service have spoken exclusively to the Advertiser about the danger to locals if their bosses’ plans to close the High Peak’s two ambulance stations get the go-ahead.
Under their Being the Best review, East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS) want to replace their 66 ambulance stations with 13 hubs.
If the plans are agreed, ambulance stations at Buxton and New Mills will be closed. In addition, 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 their ambulance at the start and end of each day.
But staff are concerned that this extra travelling – which will have to be done at their own expense – will cause a “real and noticeable loss of cover whilst ambulances travel between Chesterfield and Buxton at the start and end of their shifts.”
Other concerns raised by the staff include:
* Weather - staff fear that the High Peak’s often extreme weather conditions means there may be many times when ambulances will not be able to get from Chesterfield into the High Peak area.
* Ambulance downtime - Ambulances that need to be re-stocked, cleaned or have equipment replaced can currently do this at a High Peak station. However, if the plans go ahead and a hub is created in Chesterfield, ambulances will have to leave the area regularly during the shift, further depleting High Peak cover.
* Ambulance deployment - Ambulances travelling from Chesterfield to High Peak may be tasked to jobs local to Chesterfield and be delayed arriving to cover the High Peak.
* Local knowledge - local staff travelling to the Chesterfield hub although tasked to cover Buxton/High Peak would not be guaranteed to return to their area, due to demand/pressures, so there would then be a loss of local knowledge.
Staff are keen for local residents to ensure they have their say on the proposals, which have attracted widespread condemnation since being revealed in the Buxton Advertiser in May.
An online petition against the proposals has been created and has so far attracted over 4,100 signatures.
The petition, which is available at http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/36228, closes on October 19, and locals are being encouraged to sign it and add their voice to the campaign.
A Facebook page, Save High Peak Ambulance Stations, has been created, with more information on why staff believe rural communities will suffer if the proposal goes ahead.
Buxton company Print Express have kindly produced some full colour posters to help the staff in their campaign to save the stations.
The posters encourage people to get involved in the campaign to save the High Peak’s ambulance service, and will be put up around the area.
Two public consultation meetings are taking place next month, giving locals the chance to have their say on the controversial proposals.
The first meeting is taking place on Tuesday November 6 at the Octagon, Pavilion Gardens, Buxton at 6pm.
On Friday, November 16, a meeting is being held in New Mills, at the Town Hall, at 7pm.
Copies of the consultation document are available online at www.emas.nhs.uk, by emailing email@example.com or by calling 0800 917 9911.
The consultation runs until December 17.