Fresh calls made for dedicated Lincolnshire ambulance service

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Health representatives have made fresh calls for a dedicated Lincolnshire ambulance service, after its current provider admitted that resolving response time target failures would cost millions.

Lincolnshire County Council’s health scrutiny committee last week engaged in a ‘heated’ debate with East Midlands Ambulance Service over its proposals to replace dozens of stations with ‘community access points.’

EMAS chief executive Phil Milligan failed to provide assurances that the suggested changes would resolve the service’s failure to meet emergency response time targets, which he claims would cost millions to achieve in Lincolnshire.

Committee chairman Coun Christine Talbot feels this admission, following years of poor performance scores, now justified the pursuit of a break-away ambulance service for the county.

She said: “I pushed him and pushed him but he was unable to make categorical assurances that the proposals would improve response times.

“I think that the time has come to lobby government for another scheme for Lincolnshire to have its own ambulance service.

“I’m not worried about what happens in Derby or Nottingham, I was elected to represent the people of Lincolnshire so it’s those 700,000 residents that matter to me,”

If re-elected in May, LCC’s Conservative Group has pledged to do ‘everything within its power’ to press for a dedicated county service, which is likely to involve some form of partnership with Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue.

Burgh le Marsh’s ward holder Neil Cooper also attended the meeting and agrees that a new county based service is required.

He said: “EMAS is not fit for purpose, it has failed to meet all its targets over the last two years and we need to a Lincolnshire based service which serves the people of Lincolnshire.”

Mr Milligan came under further attack for his failure to consult with the public over his latest proposals.

Recommendations set out in EMAS’s ‘Being the Best’ consultation, which received ‘marginal’ public support have now been ‘radically’ altered for its board to consider on March 25.

The health scrutiny committee believes EMAS’s decision to decide on proposals without public consultation, is ‘seriously flawed’ and will refer the matter to the secretary of state for health, unless such consultation takes place.

Coun Talbot said: “We believe that a proposer consultation is needed - there was considerable opposition in the county to the first set of proposals, with thousands of people signing petitions, and only marginal support over the whole East Midlands.

“You can’t consult on one set of proposals and then get a small set of stakeholders to make decisions on a completely different option.

“EMAS has ridden roughshod on the people of Lincolnshire by not consulting and we are minded to make a referral to the secretary of state because we believe the whole process is flawed.”