New ambulance plans prompt thousands to sign protest petitions
THOUSANDS of people have signed 11 petitions against plans to close the region's ambulance stations, according to a report.
East Midlands Ambulance Service wants to replace the county's 16 stations with two so-called "super-centres" where vehicles would be cleaned and stocked with medical supplies.
The trust would also set up about 30 "community ambulance posts" in Derbyshire, where staff can take breaks and restock.
These would either be in shared locations with police or fire services, NHS walk-in centres or stand-alone cabins or huts.
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It is part of bigger changes overall to the way the service operates and, over the past 13 weeks, the trust has been running a consultation to inform members of the public and staff about the plans.
Concerns have been expressed that closing stations might leave some parts of the county without ambulance cover and, in November last year, campaigners held a protest march in Ripley.
The trust has now published a report looking at the responses it has received.
According to the document, there were 11 petitions against the closure of ambulance stations – including a 51,000-strong one from the union Unison.
Petitions were received from areas in Derbyshire such as New Mills and the High Peak, protesting against the closure of specific stations.
Despite this, the report said there was "marginal overall agreement" to the proposals.
It said: "Overall, 1,461 consultation responses were received through the post, online and on the freephone number. In addition, there were 1,450 individual comments received either by e-mail, letter or in the additional comments box on the feedback form.
"Responses in the formal feedback form within the consultation document demonstrate a marginal overall agreement with the proposals."
The report said it was not clear whether people who had signed the petitions had "given consideration to all the proposals as formally set out by EMAS".
It said: "Ten petitions were delivered to the trust opposing 'closures' of ambulance stations in specific areas.
"One further petition, organised by Unison, contains signatures from across the region. All give little or no information or opinion on plans for the creation of hubs, community ambulance posts, changes to the service model and workforce issues. Some petitions contained duplicate names. Others contained addresses from outside the region."
The trust said the next stage of its "Being the Best" proposal would be a meeting of the ambulance trust's board at the Peepul Centre, in Orchardson Avenue, Leicester, today from 10am.
A spokeswoman for the trust said no decisions would be made at this meeting, with the board taking note of responses.
On Monday, January 28, a board meeting will be held at headquarters, at Nottingham Business Park, where final plans will be discussed.