Council leaders to review ambulance station closures

19/5/2012 (NEWS)''Havant Ambulance Station in Downley Road in Havant.''Picture: Sarah Standing (121767-5483)
19/5/2012 (NEWS)''Havant Ambulance Station in Downley Road in Havant.''Picture: Sarah Standing (121767-5483)

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THE decision to close four ambulance stations is to be investigated by council leaders.

Ann Buckley, county councillor for Leigh Park and Bedhampton, is worried that call-out times could be affected, particularly in harder-to-reach areas such as Hayling Island.

The concern comes as South Central Ambulance Service (SCAS) has taken the decision to close Havant station in New Lane, as well as stations in Gosport, Fareham, and Portsmouth.

Instead, it will build a super hub somewhere at the northern end of Portsea Island.

Staff will then be sent out to ‘standby points’ within the other areas from where they can respond to emergencies.

Cllr Buckley, who sits on Hampshire’s health overview and scrutiny committee, said it will investigate the decision.

She said: ‘It’s very disappointing to see the ambulance stations go. I did a 12-hour shift with the ambulance service about a month ago. It was interesting to see how hard they work and how good they are.

‘Members of the committee want it to be brought in so we can go over it thoroughly and see if it is the right way forward. We would like to hear more on the views of the staff.’

SCAS says ambulance crew shifts will overlap to make sure there is enough coverage in each area.

And in 84 per cent of call-outs, ambulances are already sent from mobile locations rather than their stations.

But Cllr Buckley feared emergency response times could suffer.

She added: ‘Where it could be serious is for Hayling Island.

‘It would really be a cause for concern if ambulances were further away.’

The closures will also be the subject of an emergency debate at this Thursday’s Portsmouth Health Overview and Scrutiny. committee.

A spokeswoman for SCAS said many of the ambulance stations were no longer fit for purpose.

She said staff were generally only based at the stations at the start and end of a shift and for breaks and mealtimes.

She said it would not affect call-out times and patients would still get the same standard of service they do now.

But she said SCAS was going back to local councils to see if any concerns could be addressed.

A statement added: ‘The ambulance service has changed considerably over the years and now the focus is based on both patients expectations and the complex conditions with which people experience.

‘This requires the service to respond quicker than ever, and this coupled with the increases in population, demand and traffic, requires our service to be mobile at all times.’