A renewed call has been made for Lincolnshire to be handed back its own ambulance service due to the ‘failure’ of the existing East Midlands Ambulance Service.
Councillor Christine Talbot, chairman of the Health Scrutiny Committee for Lincolnshire, has confirmed that the committee will be writing to the secretary of state for health, Jeremy Hunt MP, to intervene.
Coun Talbot said the current EMAS proposals, which are due to be decided on Monday, ‘still entirely fail to address’ how response times will be improved.
The original ‘Being the Best’ plans, which have now been revised, included the closure of Louth’s ambulance station in favour of 131 ‘tactical deployment units’, using 13 main ‘hubs’ including Skegness and Lincoln, with the rest of the stations being closed.
But earlier this month it emerged that EMAS had been swayed by feedback from their wave of consultations, and the latest plans include keeping Louth open as one of 17 ambulance stations, alongside 11 ‘superhubs’ and 108 community stations.
Campaigners in Louth had presented a petition to EMAS with over 3,000 signatures calling for the town’s station to be kept open.
And the EMAS trust board are due to make a final decision on how to proceed on Monday.
Coun Talbot said: “On behalf of all residents in Lincolnshire – who deserve, and are not receiving the best response times from their ambulance service – the Health Scrutiny Committee for Lincolnshire has today decided to ask the Secretary of State to review EMAS’ consultation.
“We believe the consultation is flawed; key parties were not invited to comment, new options not consulted on, and both public and stakeholder events poorly attended.
“Despite the goalposts changing, and new options being introduced at the 11th hour, EMAS’ proposals still entirely fail to address how they will start meeting response time targets for our county.
“EMAS has not met targets for the last 21 months in Lincolnshire and this isn’t good enough. It is not acceptable for voluntary organisations such as LIVES and other emergency services, who make a valuable contribution to response times, to prop up the ambulance service.
“The committee therefore has no confidence that EMAS’ pledge of ‘Being the Best’ will happen in Lincolnshire without considerable extra financing and will therefore be referring the matter to the Secretary of State.
“Our ultimate goal is to return a dedicated ambulance service to the county.”
Commenting on the publication of the board papers, EMAS chief executive Phil Milligan said: “The aim of our Being the Best change programme has always been to improve response times to emergency 999 calls and to improve the working lives of our frontline staff.
“I am pleased our staff, and the people and organisations who have an interest in the service we provide have taken the time to be involved, to have their say and help to shape our plans.
“Our service has got to change if we are to improve. The decision we make on Monday has to be right for our patients and right for our staff.
“I am confident that we will get it right for the people of the East Midlands.”
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