CALLS have been made for West Midlands Ambulance Service to keep at least one emergency vehicle based in the town once Kidderminster Ambulance Station closes at the end of this month.

Concerns have been raised about the closure's impact on 999 response times in Kidderminster and Wyre Forest Liberal Democrats have criticised the ambulance service for not utilising the soon-to-open blue light hub in Stourport Road.

District councillor Shazu Miah said: "This is an appalling decision which may well put lives at risk in Kidderminster.

"Wyre Forest Liberal Democrats were already angry at the failure of the West Midlands Ambulance Service to commit to sharing the Wyre Forest Blue Light Hub. Now we have this horrendous situation.

"Not only will this mean the wonderful staff having to travel further to their work base but it will inevitably cause delays in getting emergency ambulances to local residents.

"I call on Anthony Marsh, chief executive of the West Midlands Ambulance Service, to reverse this decision in the interests of the safety of Wyre Forest residents and of everyone who also works in Wyre Forest.

"We deserve better than this."

At a meeting of Worcestershire County Council on Thursday, Councillor Fran Oborski, who is also a member of Hereford and Worcester Fire and Rescue Authority, said that chief fire officer Nathan Travis would be contacting Anthony Marsh "as a matter of urgency" to ask him to consider stationing at least one ambulance at the new emergency services hub in Kidderminster.

Speaking afterwards, a spokesman for Hereford and Worcester Fire Service said: "Hereford and Worcester Fire and Rescue Service was asked if the service might engage to see if there was any opportunity to put an ambulance resource into the new Wyre Forest Hub.

"Chief Fire Officer Nathan Travis is currently progressing this inquiry."

Readers also responded to the decision on social media, with one commenting: "The staff will have longer journeys at the start and end of the shifts with 12 exhausting hours between. [I'm] not sure how many ambulances get to wait around on standby these days - they always seem so busy or waiting to offload at Worcester.

"This is really bad news for Wyre Forest what ever way the service try to say otherwise."

Another wrote: "Yet another cut in the services for Kidderminster."

West Midlands Ambulance Service says it has been negotiating with staff based at Kidderminster for weeks to determine alternative shift patterns and base locations "to ensure that their working lives are improved with the closure".

The service insists that the move will make "no difference" to the service patients receive.

A spokesman said: "Looking at recent data on how often the Kidderminster ambulances attend 999 calls in the Kidderminster area, only 1.6 per cent of cases are attended by the two Kidderminster vehicles. The other 98.4 per cent are attended by vehicles from other hubs.

"As a service we will always send the nearest available vehicle to each case. The fact that an ambulance starts a shift in Kidderminster makes no difference as far as the service to patients is concerned.

"Whilst this change will mean that an ambulance will not start or finish its shift in Kidderminster, it does not mean that the level of provision will change.

"Other than starting and finishing their shift, the Kidderminster vehicles rarely get back to the station.

"Spending money on buildings which are seldom used does nothing to save lives. We would much rather use that resource to increase staff and vehicle numbers which is exactly what we are doing.

"The trust was very clear with 999 colleagues from the inception of the Wyre Forest Blue Lights Hub plans that it did not wish to utilise the facility."

They added: "The trust has invested heavily in its workforce and is the only one in the UK that has a paramedic on every vehicle.

"Having a paramedic attend a patient means more are discharged on scene with fewer needing to be taken to hospital. In the West Midlands, only just over 50 per cent of patients are now transported to A&E."