The east coast has been ‘guaranteed’ better ambulance response times through increases to staff and vehicle numbers in Skegness later this month.
East Midlands Ambulance Service’s locality quality manager Steve Kennedy said the changes, scheduled for May 27, will have a ‘massive positive impact on Skegness’.
“We’ve invested quite a lot to increase resources for Skegness and the east coast,” he told Skegness Hospital Watch at last night’s meeting.
Having repeatedly failed to meet emergency response time targets throughout the county, Mr Kennedy also acknowledged the region had been under-staffed in the past.
“We’ve looked at the demand analysis and we’ve realised that resources were down and that we needed to increase staffing to meet demand,” he added
Mr Kennedy said the staffing would increase by around ‘50 to 60 per cent’, with 10 more positions and five fast response vehicles.
Fending concerns raised by Skegness Deputy Mayor Coun George Saxon about the competency of new staff, Mr Kennedy also made assurances there would be fully qualified paramedics in each vehicle.
“We’ve invested a lot of money training the staff that we have now - each vehicle will have at least one fully trained paramedic,” he said.
Further service improvements were also to be expected through changes to the inclusion and exclusion criteria at Skegness Hospital.
Current directives heavily restrict the sorts of patients paramedics can take to Skegness Hospital, with most requiring treatment at either Boston Pilgrim or Lincoln County Hospital.
However Mr Kennedy said that EMAS and Lincolnshire Community Health Services were looking to adopt changes which would enable more patients to be admitted in Skegness, cutting journey times and saving resources.
Fears that Skegness Station had been downgraded due to it missing out on ‘hub’ status in the latest update to EMAS’s ‘Being the Best’ consultation were also played down by Mr Kennedy.
Initially Skegness was billed as one of 13 ‘hubs’ across the region where ambulances and paramedics would be based.
However at just weeks before the consultation was due to be agreed, the ‘hub and spoke’ model changed to include just nine super hubs, 19 smaller stations and 108 community access points - where ambulances would be stationed strategically on roadsides ready to respond to an emergency.
Several Hospital Watch members feared that by choosing Boston over Skegness as the nearest super hub, the local services would be worsened, particularly during the busy summer season.
Mr Kennedy, however, stressed that the only difference between Skegness and Boston was that the latter would have a centre to repair and maintain the service’s ambulance fleet.
“In Skegness the station will be the same as it is now but it will be revamped somewhat - there will be improvement made and staff levels will increase so performance should be better for the area although it will not be a hub station,” he said.
Ingoldmells parish councillors made further requests to ensure that one of the community access points would be stationed in the village.
Coun Len Chapman said the council had offered the village’s Royal Arthur Centre as a standby point so that ambulances could attend emergencies further up the coast without having to battle with Skegness holiday traffic.
“We offered it two years ago and we really wanted it to be taken up - during the holiday season there are thousands of people and at times the ambulances are stuck in traffic,” he said.
Mr Kennedy said he was unaware of the offer but would make it known to his colleagues.