Burntwood ambulance point to close down
A Staffordshire ambulance station will close tomorrow, prompting fears that lives will be put at risk.
Burntwood standby point has been axed by West Midlands Ambulance Service (WMAS), with bosses saying it is a cost-cutting measure.
But Staffordshire County Council’s Labour group leader Sue Woodward has hit out at the move, warning that it left ‘serious question marks’ over the service’s ability to deal with emergency calls.
She also accused WMAS of shutting down the station in Chasewater Heath ‘by stealth’, after it emerged that neither residents nor the council had been told of the decision.
Mrs Woodward, who represents Burntwood North, said the closure of stations at Five Ways, Heath Hayes; Delta Way, Cannock and Keys Park, Hednesford meant that the closest base was now around five miles away in Eastern Avenue, Lichfield.
“There is serious concern among residents over this latest closure, which appears to have been done by stealth without any notification or consultation,” she said.
“We have lost a number of other ambulance points in the area, and it now means that the nearest one serving our town of 28,000 residents is in Lichfield.
“It leaves serious question marks over how the ambulance service plans to deal with emergency calls, in particular how it will meet its category one response time of seven and a half minutes.
“What happens if someone goes into cardiac arrest and there is no ambulance close by?”
WMAS spokesman Jamie Arrowsmith said the post was ‘rarely used’ as due to high demand vehicles don’t get there before they get sent to their next case.
“This means it is no longer cost effective to have the post,” he said.
“We would much rather invest our funding in increasing the number of frontline ambulance staff who save lives, than by having little used buildings.
"The overwhelming need for patients is to provide an ambulance with a paramedic on board so that the crew can deal with the patients’ needs.
"This could be treatment at the scene or transport to another setting such as a hospital.
"By substantially increasing the number of staff and ambulances we have available, patients receive a much better standard of care."
Representatives from WMAS are due to meet Councillor Woodward to discuss the closure.