AMBULANCE staff say a newly-opened hub is working well – but councillors say they are still not convinced their towns are being offered enough emergency cover.
The South East Hampshire Resource Centre in Northarbour Road, Cosham, is now the main base for staff of South Central Ambulance Service in the south-east area.
The trust closed Fareham’s station, while no ambulances are stationed in Gosport, Havant or Eastern Road, Portsmouth.
The decision to create the £2.2m hub was made as other stations had become outdated and a purpose-built centre would provide more modern facilities.
Neil Cook, head of operations and area manager for Scas, said: ‘We have 204 staff working from our new hub and it’s going well.
‘Having a bigger hub means all our vehicles start and finish here, so they can be cleaned and checked over quicker, by one team.
‘If a staff member becomes ill or has to take time off work, then again we can arrange cover a lot quicker.
‘And we have separate, improved areas for staff to have meal breaks and down time, a study room and training rooms.’
The Gosport station is home to two rapid-response vehicles that always stay in the area, while the Havant station houses emergency care workers.
Crews work in staggered 10-hour shifts and go to standby points ready for calls, instead of waiting at the hub.
The Fareham station is the only one to have closed completely.
Mr Cook added: ‘People should not worry that an ambulance will not get to them.
‘We have reconfigured our stand-by points for different priorities.
‘We are talking to Fareham Borough Council for a further standby point unit near the A32.’
Fareham Borough Council leader Sean Woodward said he was worried.
‘For a 110,000-strong town, plus the surrounding areas we have, I don’t think it’s good to remove an ambulance base.
‘I haven’t been told about plans to open a unit in Fareham, but it is something I’m happy to talk about.’
Gosport Borough Council’s health spokesman Cllr Peter Edgar said he, along with members of the public, will be keeping an eye on the situation.
He said: ‘People will be watching carefully.
‘Since Haslar Hospital closed we’ve seen more paramedics on the peninsula. I hope that remains or is increased, now ambulances won’t be based at Gosport station.
‘We need to make sure we have full emergency cover.
‘The problem with centralisation is a lot of the resources will be there, and it might be harder to get to the bottom of Gosport and then back up again to Queen Alexandra Hospital.’