Union fears ‘postcode lottery’ of ambulance cover

Louth Ambulance Station. Photo: Ian Holmes.
Louth Ambulance Station. Photo: Ian Holmes.

A medical union fears changes to the local ambulance service would be ‘dangerous’ for the public and staff, creating a ‘postcode lottery’ in the area.

The GMB union have heavily criticised East Midlands Ambulance Service for doing ‘too much too soon’ and ‘misleading’ the public, and have pleaded with them to put the brakes on.

EMAS are poised to decide over whether to implement their controversial plans which would see 66 ambulance stations replaced with 12 hubs and Louth’s station closed in favour of a more mobile coverage.

EMAS have strongly defended their ‘Being the Best’ proposals as the most favourable way of bringing down response times, but have faced growing criticism from the public, local authorities and other bodies.

Colin Todd, the local GMB organiser, said: “GMB is not against changes. However, a lot more work needs to be done.”

“GMB feel there is too much too soon and the brakes should be applied. We feel that before anything is implemented that a further round of public and staff consultation is needed with much more detail being available so we can make informed suggestions.”

GMB believe the ambulance stations model would be ‘unworkable’, the rota review for staff a ‘shambles’ and operational changes too top down.

They also slammed the public meetings held across the county, which saw low turnouts in many places, as ‘poorly advertised and promoted’, ‘lacking strategy’ and some of the answers given as ‘misleading’.

‘Postcode lottery’

Continuing their criticism, GMB say the proposal is both ‘flawed’ and even ‘dangerous to the public and staff’, creating a postcode lottery and putting added reliance on community responders in rural areas.

“The reality is that crews picking up their vehicle at the hub will be responding as soon as they are mobile and they will not get to the proposed tactical deployment points,” GMB said.

“The locations of the hubs mean huge geographical areas are long distances from the start point of the crews.

“Without ring-fencing these crews until they get to the area, it will leave certain areas without emergency cover.”

‘Proposals designed to improve service’

Phil Milligan, EMAS chief executive said: “Our proposals are designed to improve our service for patients and staff, and the three month consultation has given staff, local people and organisations the opportunity to help shape plans.”

A feedback report will be presented to EMAS’ Trust Board in January with a final verdict expected to be revealed around January 28.