'Lives put at risk by ambulance plans'

First published in Local

MOVES are under way to fight plans to sell Kidderminster Ambulance Station amid fears lives would be put at risk.

Wyre Forest Labour Party is set to campaign against the proposals by West Midlands Ambulance Service NHS Trust to put the Stourport Road station on the market next year.

The trust plans to replace it with two new community stations, in Mill Street and at the Hoobrook Enterprise Centre, both in Kidderminster.

A community station will also be based in Mitton Street, Stourport, which is expected to open in the next few weeks, in a bid to cut costs and service downtime.

The district’s Labour Party members fear the move would reduce the quality and safety of health services in Wyre Forest.

Chris Kowalik, a spokesman for the health trust, however, said the aim was to get to patients quickly and save lives.

Howard Martin, Labour’s Wyre Forest Parliamentary spokesman, said: “The trust claim this will be more efficient and save money but at what price to the safety of those needing emergency treatment in this area? It is a dangerous cut in service and a bigger threat in some ways than the one which faced us with the hospital downgrading 12 years ago.”

The proposal is part of the trust’s “make ready” initiative, which will see vehicle maintenance moved to “hubs” in Worcester and Bromsgrove, where stations will be upgraded.

Fleet assistants at the hubs will clean and prepare ambulances, freeing up time for ambulance staff – who at present do the tidying-up work themselves – to respond to emergencies.

Mr Kowalik explained that a “dedicated” team of community paramedics would also be based at the Wyre Forest stations at all times, treating patients from their homes.

“We’re not reducing the number of vehicles – we’re increasing the level of care all around,” he said.

“What we’re doing is increasing the number of stations that we respond from.

“The things that save lives are the ambulances, the cars and the people in them. We want to get to people quickly – that’s why we are opening these stations.”

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