MP takes case to the top

CONTROVERSIAL plans to close the High Peak’s ambulance stations have been raised in Parliament.

High Peak MP Andrew Bingham secured an adjournment debate to take the area’s concerns to the highest level last week.

Mr Bingham told the House of Commons that the East Midlands Ambulance Service’s (EMAS) proposals to replace ambulance stations with community ambulance posts and hubs were “inadequate, unfeasible and unworkable.”

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

“I can see the logic of a hub and spoke model, however the crucial decision within this model is where you locate the hubs, and it is here where I believe EMAS have got it so badly wrong for the High Peak,” he said.

“The whole of the High Peak has united against these proposals. Public meetings have been held and hundreds of people have attended. The Chief Executive has said that he’s listening very carefully to local people. I hope that he is.

“I hope that when he presents his final recommendations to his board they are not the ones that are on the table today.

“They are inadequate, they are unfeasible and they are unworkable.

“They will reduce – not enhance– the service, they hamper –not improve – staff welfare and they desert – not embrace – the people of the High Peak in their hour of need.”

Responding to Mr Bingham’s comments, Dr Daniel Poulter, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State of Health, said: “I know that my hon Friend the Member for Staffordshire Moorlands (Karen Bradley), who lives in a nearby constituency, shares those concerns.

“A review is currently taking place. We all welcome reviews if they are going to improve the quality of care for patients and improve ambulance response times.

“However, there are local concerns that the review must take into account issues such as rurality and the difficulties that patients on high land or in harder-to-access areas have in accessing all types of health care services.

“I note the concerns that the review is making proposals that do not necessarily take account of these factors.

“My hon Friend the Member for High Peak has put those concerns on the record today.

“If that has happened, I echo his concerns, because it is important, in the review of any service, that issues such as rurality and difficult-to-access areas are taken fully into account.

“This is, of course, a local health care decision.

“If he wants to discuss the matter further with Ministers, we are happy to discuss it with him.”

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 at their meeting on January 28, 2013.