‘Stand up and be counted’

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Have your say

UNDER-THREAT ambulance stations could be saved if enough people are prepared to take a stand against planned closures.

Members of the public are being urged to have their say on East Midlands Ambulance Service’s proposals to close many of the stations across the region in a bid to save money and improve response times.

Although the trust has not yet finalised where the axe will fall, it is believed Spalding’s station could be one of those affected.

In its place a new “hub” could be created in Algarkirk, with ambulances being located at other strategic locations waiting for 999 calls.

But public service union Unison fears response times will worsen, particularly in rural areas such as South Holland.

Branch secretary for Unison East Midlands Ambulance Service Paul Brown said: “Without a doubt it 
is going to be the rural areas that will be hit the hardest.

“EMAS has done a lot of computer mapping to come up with the best locations for ambulances, but in some cases it looks as though they have just stuck a pin in a map and the locations have not been used before and are not tried and tested.

“In some rural locations, where there is a great distance between hospitals, you could be looking at a journey of an hour and a half to get people to hospital.

“But, what I will say is that the Trust’s chief executive Phil Milligan does listen to what people have to say, so people need to make their voices heard.”

Unison has already set up an online petition to gather signatures of those opposed to any closures, but Mr Brown said that alone will not be enough if apathy is allowed to rule when the plans go to public consultation.

And he said the union would welcome any move to set up local petitions against the plans, adding: “The more pressure we can put on the trust the better.

“Petitions are good and show public opposition but what we really need is for people to come out in force when they hold these public consultation meetings and make sure their voices are heard.”

It is expected the public will have a chance to air their views when the consultation begins next month.