AMBULANCE STATION FOR THE CHOP?

Spalding Ambulance Station
Spalding Ambulance Station

SPALDING’S ambulance station could close as part of plans to improve the 999 service’s response times.

The station, which opened just three years ago as part of the town’s new £25m Johnson Community Hospital, is threatened as East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS) looks to close the majority of its stations across the region and replace them with 13 “hubs”.

Stations across the district, including Holbeach, are also at risk.

The nearest hub to Spalding would be Algarkirk – leading to fears that poor ambulance response times could get even worse unless effective alternatives are found.

The hubs would support a network of 131 “tactical deployment points”, where ambulances would await an emergency call.

But Coun Howard Johnson, a South Holland district councillor and member of Lincolnshire County Council’s health scrutiny committee, said: “I am not sure that is what they are planning but they could not close Spalding ambulance station without seeing response times go from bad to worse.

“One thing I believe they have been considering is ambulances sharing facilities with other emergency services and that would have to happen in Spalding – ambulances would have to be based alongside the fire service.

“Provided they position ambulances in other suitable locations I am prepared to give it a whirl.”

But Angela Newton, chairman of the Johnson Hospital League of Friends, said closing the town’s ambulance station would be a further blow to local services.

She said: “The ambulance service is saying we would not be disadvantaged and I don’t know all the ins and outs, but I would think if they are going to move ambulances further away it is going to take longer to respond to incidents.

“Plus, moving services away from Spalding could have an effect on local employment.”

Closures form part of EMAS’s Being the Best change programme, which will be discussed at the trust’s board meeting on Monday.

Chief executive Phil Milligan said: “To meet current and future performance standards, EMAS has to change.

“The changes we propose should see our response to life-threatening 999 calls improve by five per cent, which means we will get to more people faster, enabling us to provide better patient care.”