controversial plans to revamp the area’s ambulance services, which include the closure of Louth Ambulance Station, have again come under fire.
The plans were debated at Louth’s Area Committee meeting on Monday night, with councillors and the public raising concerns that East Midlands Ambulance Service’s proposed locations for new ‘super stations’ would leave a substantial hole in the local geographic.
Plans have been announced to close of number of local ambulance stations and replace them with 13 main ambulance hubs, the closest in Skegness, that would cover all areas including, Louth, Mablethorpe and Horncastle.
Richard Henderson of EMAS explained that it ‘was not a cost-cutting exercise’, and the level of cover would be improved. “Ambulances do not respond from the existing old stations which are empty 90 per cent of the time,” he said.
EMAS voiced their plans to provide 131 Community Ambulance Posts, Standby Points and Hubs across the region, replacing the 66 current ambulance stations.
Coun Philip Sturman said: “People are concerned; they want assurance that cover will be maintained.”
One resident said: “This is going to happen, there is no doubt about that. What contingency plan have you got?”
Mr Henderson responded: “Our plans will be thought through and will deliver; they are robust.”
Steve Pratten, Louth operations manager for EMAS explained that such debates are part of a three-month consultation, ending December 17, and that public views would shape the final decision.
Coun Sue Locking said Lincolnshire’s ‘poor infrastructure’ was a concern, while Coun Pauline Watson questioned whether EMAS would save money by renting new buildings.
Louth resident Jackie Featherstone is currently campaigning to save Louth Ambulance Station and raised concerns for staff members who may have to travel to Skegness to start their shifts.
But EMAS reassured the public that no front-line staff members would be cut and that they would be consulted on location changes.
Coun Roger Featherstone then produced a map showing the radius around each proposed hub, leaving a large gap around Louth and Northern Lincolnshire.
Steve Pratten said a ‘very accurate’ computer system had placed the hubs, but said the ‘human element’ of the plans would be provided by the consultation.
Louth’s official meeting to discuss the plans is at the Meridian Leisure Centre on October 10, at 2pm.
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