New options for service’s future

Buxton Ambulance Station
Buxton Ambulance Station

A NEW hub in Dove Holes is part of four options now being considered by health bosses looking to reorganise how the region’s ambulance service operates.

East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS) recently undertook a three-month consultation over controversial plans to close ambulance stations and replace them with community ambulance posts and hubs.

The initial proposals would have seen ambulance stations in Buxton and New Mills replaced with a hub at junction 29 of the M1 - the other side of Chesterfield.

Members of the EMAS trust board were due to make a decision on the proposals later this month, but at a meeting last week, the board agreed to delay any decision until March so that alternative options - developed from consultation feedback - could be looked at.

A statement from EMAS said: “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.

“On the EMAS estate, in particular, it means we will be carrying out further analysis to make sure the final proposals work operationally and financially.”

The options include:

• Option 0 - Do nothing

• Option 0a - Recruit more staff and have more vehicles

• Option 1 - Do the minimum - keep the ambulance stations and introduce 118 community ambulance posts

• Option 2 - Run with the 13 hub and 118 community ambulance posts model (as described during the consultation)

• Option 3 - Have more than 13 hubs/stations (this option includes the possibility of having 27 hubs supported by 108 community ambulance posts).

EMAS said: “Different estate options better meet different criteria and different options have different costs associated to them.

“We will not speculate on the final decision which will be made by the trust board in March 2013.”

If option three, having 27 hubs and 108 community ambulance posts is chosen, it would mean the majority of the trust’s current ambulance stations would be closed and new hub stations would be built. In Derbyshire, hubs would be located in Chesterfield, and in the Dove Holes area, though no specific details of where these could go have been released.

High Peak MP Andrew Bingham, who met with EMAS Chief Executive Phil Milligan on Tuesday to discuss the plans, said: “I feel sure that EMAS have gone back to the drawing board due to the enormous outcry in the High Peak and I would like to thank everyone who has contributed.

“I have consistently left Mr Milligan and EMAS in no doubt about my views that the original proposals were completely wrong.

“I am pleased that they have decided to delay the decision so that they can consider further options that will in the end be better for all High Peak residents.

“I have asked that EMAS keep me informed at every stage so that when they take any proposals to their board I can be satisfied that the High Peak is not being short changed.

“I have also recommended that they look at possible further public engagement meetings in the future, depending on which route they decide to take.”

But campaigners have raised a number of issues around the new options.

Ian Howarth said: “It has taken them several months to put the 13 hub option in place. They put that option forward for the consultation, which ended on December 17. These new proposals have been created between December 17 and January 10 so they had about ten working days to put them together. How could they possibly have put the 27 hub situation together in those ten days, unless it already existed? And if it already existed, why wasn’t that proposal put out for consultation?

“They’ve only got one chance to get this right. If that is the case, how can they get it right by creating a proposal in less than three weeks?”

Fellow campaigner Chris Hallam, who was left severely injured after being hit by a car on St John’s Road, Buxton, in December 2011, may not be alive today if the town didn’t have its own ambulance station.

He said: “At the New Mills (consultation) meeting Mr Milligan said they would come back to us but there would not be any consultation on any amendments to the proposals, but this is not just a minor amendment.”

And commenting on the option which could see a hub created in Dove Holes, he added: “They know the area where they could put it so they have got to have looked at it in detail to put it on the map.”