Plan to axe Dales ambulance stations

AMBULANCE stations in Matlock and Bakewell could soon be axed in favour of a super-centre in Chesterfield.

East Midlands Ambulance Service is set for a major shake-up which could see 16 stations close in total across Derbyshire.

Bosses say the move will improve response times – which were ranked worst in the country last year – and said the changes would be brought in over a five-year period.

A spokesman for EMAS said: “It was noted that ambulance stations are where staff start their shift and that they remain empty buildings for the majority of the time.

“Potential savings from estates can be directly invested on buildings, staff and vehicles to deliver better response times.”

The service – which requires a financial investment of £12.5m to bring its stations up to the NHS standard – will instead have ambulances on standby in areas deemed to be high risk.

“Over summertime weekends in Matlock Bath we usually get a lot of emergencies,” said the EMAS spokesman.

“But with this plan we would actually have an ambulance on location – rather than parked up in the station.”

The proposals are set to go out to public consultation in September with a final decision due to be made in January.

It remains unclear whether the number of ambulances covering the region is set to increase or decrease as a result of the shake-up.

Chief executive Phil Milligan said the plans would also improve patient care and staff conditions.

He added: “The changes we propose should see our response to immediately life-threatening 999 calls improve by about five per cent.”

A spokesperson for the union Unison said: “It is important that EMAS considers the impact of these closures on staff welfare and the ability of staff to have breaks during the day, and just as important the extra travel time that will be involved.”

By year 5 of the programme EMAS estimates that running costs will be reduced by around £548k per annum.

It is also anticipated that there will be fuel savings due to a smaller number of miles travelled by ambulances.