Ambulance chiefs delay controversial revamp verdict

East Midlands Ambulance Service.
East Midlands Ambulance Service.

The wait to discover the future of Louth’s Ambulance Station has been delayed by East Midlands Ambulance Service until the end of March.

EMAS launched plans to revamp their service as part of their Being the Best project which would see Louth’s station on the industrial estate closed.

As well as Louth, a further 54 stations would also close in favour of 13 large hubs, the nearest at Skegness, as well as 131 roadside ‘community ambulance posts’.

But EMAS revealed last week that their verdict would be delayed by two months until the end of March while they examine ‘additional options’, including further analysis over the ‘EMAS estate’, or location of the new stations.

The proposals sparked controversy from within the local community and local authorities.

Louth Town Council, East Lindsey District Council and Lincolnshire County Council were all heavily critical of the changes, and a petition launched by Louth resident Jackie Featherstone was signed by over 3,000 people.

Union GMB said the stations model would be ‘unworkable’ and feared that lives would be put at risk as a result.

“The locations of the hubs mean huge geographical areas are long distances from the start point of the crews,” said Colin Todd, of GMB.

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

According to EMAS board papers from their January 10 meeting, one of the key areas for concern highlighted during the consultations was Louth and surrounding rural villages.

At a public meeting held in Louth in October, EMAS’s John Sargeant said: “I know people are anxious, obviously there’s a great strength of feeling here.”

An EMAS spokesperson said: “As part of our commitment to involve staff and the public we carried out a consultation exercise.

“It’s encouraging that so many people across the region feel passionately about the Ambulance Service and have been able to have their say in shaping the proposals to improve response times and patient care.

“As a direct result of the feedback from the consultation, we are now looking at additional options which will allow us to meet our Being the Best ambitions.”

The estates business case will now go to the March 25 board meeting rather than January 28, where a final decision is likely to be made.