Fears over ambulance cover

Campaigners fear possible changes to the ambulance service could leave Ripley and Amber Valley exposed to ‘having no ambulance cover’.

Proposals that would have seen the 65 existing ambulance stations in the East Midlands reduced to 13 ‘hubs’ sparked a public outcry and ambulance bosses were forced to delay their final decision until March 25.

But campaigners claim two of the five options being considered by the East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS) would still leave Amber Valley without a station.

One campaigner, who wishes to remain anonymous, said: “Amber Valley could be exposed to having no cover. Where is the consultation? What I’m frustrated about in Amber Valley was that the biggest demonstration against it was in Ripley.”

Three of the options considered by EMAS would see none of Derbyshire’s 17 ambulance stations removed. But two options would see stations reduced. One option replaces the stations with 13 hubs, (in Derbyshire they would be based in Chesterfield and Derby), and introduces 118 new Community Ambulance Points (‘CAPs’). Another involves the creation of 27 hubs with 108 CAPs. With each scenario, existing stations at Ripley, where 24 frontline staff are based, and at Alfreton, with 14 staff, would be removed.

EMAS says the changes will improve response times and the working lives of staff, who will respond to 999 calls in Amber Valley from strategic points, including the proposed Community Ambulance Posts at Alfreton, Belper, Heanor and Ripley.

But the campaigner said: “Amber Valley would be left encircled by other places - like Derby, Mansfield, Ashbourne, Doveholes and Chesterfield - where ambulances can be drawn off to deal with other emergencies in Nottinghamshire and South Yorkshire. Amber Valley would be left exposed.”

EMAS said: “Our priority in responding is always to attend the most life-threatening call first, wherever that may be. We recognise that our rural response times are a challenge and want to improve them. A key aim is to ensure improved response times across the whole area we serve.”