A CRUCIAL inspection which will determine whether Belper will retain its ambulance station is set to take place this week, the News can reveal.
East Midlands Ambulance chief executive Phil Milligan is set to visit Babington Hospital’s Gate House station to decide whether it is still viable in the current economic climate.
His assessment will determine whether Belper is one of the stations axed in the service’s final “estates strategy”, which will be announced in July.
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.
Mr Milligan said: “We may well have a crew in Belper who are quite legitimately sitting there having a cup of coffee when they are on standby.
“I will be seeing whether the station is in a good place to have one of our new standby points.Or we may well keep the station in Belper - I don’t know at this stage.”
EMAS is consulting on proposals to shut the majority of the area’s 70 stations, leaving as few as 10 ‘hub’ stations.
Staff will report for duty at the hubs and pick up their vehicles before returning them at the end of their shift. They will be positioned across the six counties which comes under EMAS’ control, including Derbyshire.
The hubs would also act as a base for staff training and a meeting point.
The move follows a period where EMAS has frequently been placed among the worst in the country for response times.
Mr Milligan continued: “Response times have not been good enough and we are now trying to provide a better service.
“I will also be looking at where the new hubs will be so we can get to people as quickly as possible.
“By having fewer buildings we can provide crews with a better back up. That does not mean there will be no ambulances in Belper if this happens.
“We will be looking at having tactical deployment points and will be looking at whether Babington Hospital is right for this.
“We are currently spending £13 million a year, which we don’t have, to keep our buildings up to standard.”
Belper’s station was built when the town was smaller and it has grown in population size since then. Mr Milligan said that would be one of the factors taken into account by the service before they make a final decision.
“This does not mean there will be no ambulances in Belper.
Critics have said closing stations could have a detrimental impact on response times.
Mr Milligan said the move would free up money which could be put towards maintaining paramedic numbers.