MPs condemn lengthy waits for ambulances as intolerable
THE region's ambulance service has come under fire in the House of Commons – as MPs said their elderly constituents sometimes have to "wait hours" for an ambulance.
The Parliamentary debate was prompted by John Mann – Labour MP for Bassetlaw – who wanted to discuss East Midlands Ambulance Service's plans to close its ambulance stations.
But the discussion sparked comments from other MPs, including South Derbyshire's Heather Wheeler, about lengthy waits for ambulances.
And Health Minister Anna Soubry, also MP for Broxtowe, said she felt an "urgent review" was needed over the targets which need to be met by all ambulance services.
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She said: "This debate is a good example of where top-down, Government-led targets have blighted an ambulance service – no doubt there are many other examples in the NHS."
Under the service's Being the Best proposals, Derbyshire's 16 stations would be replaced with two "super stations" – one in Derby and another in Chesterfield.
And about 30 "community ambulance posts" would also be set up, where staff could take breaks and restock.
The plans are part of bigger changes to the way the service operates – after three years of "poor performance" – but, earlier this month, ambulance bosses put off a decision for two months.
Phil Milligan, the service's chief executive, said the extra time would be used to look at different options, which might include keeping some stations.
And, in the Commons, MPs heard a number of ideas were still being considered – including the establishment of 27 "super stations" across the region instead of 13.
Mr Mann said: "What is unacceptable to all of my constituents and to me is that former mining areas and rural areas have a worse ambulance provision then the rest of the country. We are not prepared to accept that.
"East Midlands Ambulance Service must come back with a proper proposal."
Miss Soubry said she was worried about poor response times for elderly people falling over – as these were not usually deemed to be life-threatening calls.
And Mrs Wheeler added: "In South Derbyshire, we have had numerous cases of elderly people falling over in a park and having to wait hours for an ambulance.
"Residents have come to put blankets on them because they know that they should not be moved."
During the debate, Miss Soubry said she would make a recommendation to the Department of Health for national ambulance targets to be looked at. These included reaching 75% of all calls deemed "life-threatening" within eight minutes.
After the debate, Mr Milligan said: "In September 2012, we published proposals and launched a three-month consultation.
"This was aimed at helping us shape plans to make changes which will improve the service for patients and our staff.
"We have received feedback during the consultation and are reviewing additional options as a direct result. Final plans go to our March 25 trust board and a decision will be taken then."