999 service is not fit for job

East Midlands Ambulance Service want to close many of their 66 ambulance stations.
East Midlands Ambulance Service want to close many of their 66 ambulance stations.

COUNCILLORS have said they do not believe the East Midlands Ambulance service (EMAS) is fit for purpose in its current form, before any changes are made to the way the organisation operates.

High Peak Borough Council passed agreed a motion opposing the changes proposed by EMAS as “detrimental to the treatment of residents of and visitors to the High Peak, and to the staff employed by EMAS.”

EMAS want to close ambulance stations in Buxton and New Mills, and replace them with community ambulance posts and hubs.

The plans mean High Peak ambulance crews will have to travel to junction 29 of the M1 – the other side of Chesterfield – to collect and drop off ambulance vehicles at the start and end of each shift.

Speaking at last week’s meeting, Cllr John Faulkner said: “I think it is very disappointing that (EMAS Chief Executive) Mr Milligan didn’t shelve this plan for the High Peak and come back with some better thought-out plans which could then be consulted upon properly.

“Mr Milligan is accountable to the chairman of EMAS and I call ufor the resignation of the chairman of EMAS.”

Cllr Ray Atkins commented: “The national average performance target is for 75 per cent of emergency calls to be arrived at within eight minutes. Here in the High Peak the best performance is in the Buxton area with 73.12 per cent. New Mills and Hayfield is down to 67 per cent and in Whaley Bridge and Chapel it’s down to 47.8 per cent.

“Every area in the High Peak is below average but it is not as though the East Midlands as a whole is like that. Nottingham is 89.7 per cent and Derby is 90 per cent. Our present record is absolutely abysmal.

“We are calling for a massive improvement on the present situation, not to merely maintain the present situation.”

* The GMB union, who have strongly criticised the plans, called for a further round of consultation before any changes are made.

Colin Todd, GMB organiser, said: “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.”

A report detailing the consultation’s findings will be received by the EMAS trust board on January 10, 2013. The board will then receive the final proposals on January 28, 2013.