Ambulance chiefs have admitted a ‘growing strength of feeling’ against the closure of Louth’s station, their strongest hint of a u-turn yet.
At a public meeting held at the Meridian Leisure Centre last week East Midlands Ambulance Service put their radical revamp proposals to residents.
These include the ‘closure’ of stations across the area in favour of the use of 13 hubs, the closest at Skegness, and 131 community ambulance posts, and the full cost of the project was revealed to be £29million.
After waves of disapproving comments from the 30 or so crowd, and the Leader-backed Save Louth Ambulance Station campaign, EMAS’s John Sargeant said: “I know people are anxious, obviously there’s a great strength of feeling here.”
It was also revealed that Louth’s station was being earmarked for use as one of the community standby posts.
Mr Sargeant said the new model had been successfully used elsewhere. “We can’t stand still, it would be wrong to sit on our hands and not move forward,” he said, continuing EMAS’ insistence this was not a money saving exercise.
“This is playing with people’s lives,” said Louth resident Jackie Featherstone, while Jill Makinson-Sanders predicted a resulting ‘postcode lottery’.
Another questioned the wisdom of putting a hub at Skegness, complaining that Louth had been ‘bypassed’. One accused EMAS of already having made up their minds.
There were renewed calls for the return of a Lincolnshire ambulance service. “The current service has grown too big,” said Trevor Marris of Louth.
Louth’s Operations Manager, Steve Pratton, eased fears that ambulance numbers would fall. “We’ve increased by three in ten years,” he said.
EMAS’s Greg Cox added: “We only have a finite amount of money, this is the most efficient way to spend it.”
A decision will be made by EMAS in January 2013.