Ambulance plan is set for changes


HEALTH chiefs are set to change their plans for a shake-up of the ambulance service which serves the Isle of Axholme following concerns about response times.

Bosses at East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS) have proposed to close the majority of the region’s 66 stations, including those closest to the Isle in Scunthorpe and Gainsbrough, to replace them with 13 hub stations.

Health chiefs decided at a meeting last Thursday to defer a decision on the ‘Being the Best’ scheme for two months while they consider new proposals in light of responses to a public consultation.

A spokesman said: “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 initial plans suggested the nearest hubs to Epworth would be around 22 miles away in Elsham.

There would also be 118 Community Ambulance Posts (CAP) and stand by points, the nearest of which to the Isle would be around eight miles away in Brumby, Crosby, Gainsborough and Scawby.

EMAS has not said what the new proposals under consideration are, but GMB union officials claim health chiefs revealed the details during a recent meeting.

According to the GMB, the ambulance service wants to take on more vehicles, keep some of the stations open and create 27 hubs.

Colin Todd, regional GMB organiser, said: “We still do not believe closing ambulance stations will result in a better service.”

A report summarising responses to a three month public consultation showed mixed results.

Supporters argued stations are often left empty already as patients are not taken there for treatment.

Those against fear an increase in response times.

EMAS has a target of reaching 75 per cent of all life threatening emergency calls within eight minutes.

Across the region about 45, 000 people signed petitions against the scheme, but it was unclear how many were from the Isle.

Epworth Town Councillor Margaret Lindley, 70, said: “The proof of wether they have listen to the public will be when they say what the new proposals are.”

The plan was originally to be considered by the EMAS Trust Board on January 28, but this has now been put back to the meeting on March 25.