More time agreed to debate ambulance 'super station' plans
CAMPAIGNERS fighting to stop the closure of the region's ambulance stations have won a two-month reprieve.
Bosses at East Midlands Ambulance Service have put off a decision which could see the county's 16 stations closed and replaced with two "super stations" – one in Derby and another in Chesterfield.
Overall, there would be 13 "hubs" built across the region.
Phil Milligan, the service's chief executive, said the extra time will be used to look at different options, which might include keeping some stations.
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A final decision had been due to be made at an Emas board meeting on January 28 but, after hearing views from two union representatives at a meeting yesterday, directors agreed to extend the deadline.
Mr Milligan said: "In the light of comments made on our estates plan, we are looking at adding more options.
"Because of the considerable amount of work to do, we should bring this back to the board at the end of March so we can work with staff on other options."
He added: "We will also take full account of the feedback during our public consultation and appraisal workshops, which have been held in the last few days."
Mr Milligan praised staff and the public for taking part in the consultation on plans, which ran from September 17 to December 17.
He said: "The volume and quality of response has been exceptional."
The plans were originally drawn up to help the trust achieve its targets of responding to 75% of life-threatening calls within eight minutes and 95% of less urgent calls within 19 minutes.
John McGrath, emergency care practitioner for Emas and union Unison lead for Derbyshire, said: "We know changes are required, but we don't agree that 13 hubs is realistic.
"We want to work with management to create better ideas."
Colin Todd, GMB regional organiser, said "cordial and constructive" meetings had been held with Mr Milligan following the close of the consultation. He added: "It would have been much better if these meetings had happened before and during the consultation, rather than after the close date."
Mr Todd, who welcomed the delay in making a decision, said: "The GMB will actively participate in any way we can in moving forward.
"It is in all our interests to have a good service – we all have families in the area."
Gary Austin, a non-executive director with Emas who chaired the meeting, said: "The extension to look at other options also reflects the amount of helpful suggestions from members of the public. We won't make everyone happy but we went out with a concept and the public and staff have responded with suggestions in how we can improve."
A decision will be made at an Emas board meeting on Monday, March 25.