Ambulance stations could be shut down

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AMBULANCE stations in Alfreton and Ripley could close when plans to overhaul East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS) are finalised.

A draft plan released by the organisation last week says that all ambulance stations are now under review.

An EMAS spokesman said he could not confirm which stations will face the axe until the final version of the estates strategy is completed and made public in July.

Chief executive Phil Milligan said: “Many people think that we respond to 999 calls from our ambulance stations. That used to be the case but for the last ten years or so we have seen a significant increase in the number of emergency calls we receive and this has resulted in most being responded to by ambulance crews already out on the road. For the majority of the day our stations are empty.”

The stations will be replaced with new hubs and spoke stations where staff report for duty and pick up their vehicles before returning at the end of their shift and will be located across the six counties that come under EMAS’ control. They would also act as a base for staff training and meeting points for staff.

Robert Walker of EMAS, said the service logged half a million calls per anum and had built up a database which allows the service to predict “fairly accurately” where incidents will happen, so ambulances would take calls from “standing dispatch points”. He said the closures would save money but added job losses were unlikely. He said potential drawbacks included longer commutes for some staff.

Stations at Ivy Grove in Ripley and Babbington Hospital in Belper were built when the towns were smaller and since then road systems have changed. The Alfreton Resource Centre was opened in 2007 to house the hub of fleet services, logistics and clinical sections of EMAS – as well as the new ambulance station which serves the Alfreton area. Figures suggest that of EMAS’ 65 stations only ten to 14 would survive as either hubs or spoke stations.