Fierce criticism of ambulance chiefs

Councillors have been scathing over ambulance response times in the area.
Councillors have been scathing over ambulance response times in the area.

Ambulance chiefs explaining their strategy to improve failing standards came under intense criticism from concerned East Lindsey councillors on Wednesday.

East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS) representatives presented their ‘Being the Best’ consultation at East Lindsey District Council’s latest meeting at Tedder Hall, Manby.

Director of finance and performance Jon Sergeant said the changes were about making the best use of resources to improve services to patients.

He said: “We are struggling to deliver standards locally and to meet government targets we need to make changes. We want to be the best ambulance service we can possibly be.”

The changes will see 66 ambulance stations closed and replaced with a combination of 13 large ‘hubs’ and a number of ‘community ambulance posts’ where paramedics will await calls from locations deemed to be best for quick responses.

EMAS claims the community ambulance posts will improve response times, while the 13 large hubs, including one at Skegness, will provide centres where vehicles can be maintained by mechanics rather than clinical staff, to make better use of resources.

As ambulance stations are often empty for most of the day, Mr Sergeant explained their closure would not impact on services, as many had feared.

“There’s been a lot of myth and rumour going around about station closures, but we provide our service from the ambulance not the ambulance station.”

Following years in which EMAS has failed to meet response time targets in Lincolnshire, councillors at the meeting were keen to see changes implemented, but questioned whether these would achieve anything other than a budget reduction. Coun Neil Cooper highlighted examples where a patient who suffered a stroke was left waiting for 1hr 40mins while an ambulance was called in from Stamford, as evidence the service was ‘dreadful,’ a ‘disservice to Lincolnshire’ and in need of urgent change.

“That man could have died because of the failure to have vehicles in the locality,” he said.

Coun Mark Anderson was concerned that the changes do not include the creation of more front line service and Coun Tony Howard felt the business plan was flawed.