Ambulance station could survive the county closures

Belper’s ambulance station could be saved from the axe - after the chief executive of East Midlands Ambulance Service said he was satisfied “in principle” with the current building.

Phil Milligan conducted a flurry of visits across Derbyshire this week in an effort to determine which stations are axed in the service’s “estates strategy”, which will be announced on Tuesday, July 17.

Only 10 out of 65 stations are expected to survive the cull as the service looks to have paramedics sitting in ambulances rather than in buildings to save cash and cut response times.

During a visit to Babington Hospital on Wednesday Mr Milligan said he was happy with the Gate House building which is currently home to the EMAS paramedics.

However, he said the ultimate decision on whether it was retained was dependant on whether an analysis of 999 calls showed that it was in the best geographic location to reach patients in time.

In an exclusive interview with the News he said: “We have got some buildings that are decrepit and not up to modern standards but the principle of what’s here is absolutely fine. It may be this is a really good standby point. However, I have no idea whether this is in the right place.

“I have met the crew and they are good people. They like being based here and within seconds they are on the road.”

EMAS has frequently been placed among the worst in the country for response times despite spending £13 million a year on its buildings.

However, Tim Slater, acting assiatant director for EMAS in Derbyshire, said the situation was much different in Belper.

“Belper has best mobilisation times of any station in Derbyshire,” he said. “However, there’s nothing better than local knowledge. We can look at a point on a map, but staff might come to us and say the best place is 500 yards down the road at a garage.

“It is a completely different service than it was. Ambulances are not glorified taxi’s - they are primary health care services.”

One change which is guaranteed is that paramedics will soon have to pick up their ambulance from a new Derbyshire “hub” station rather than leaving it at the hospital.

Mr Milligan added: “At the moment they come here to pick up their vehicle and have no mechanic, cleaner or support worker. The bigger station will have all those things.”