A paramedic who treats patients in Melton has criticised the ambulance service for leaving the town without a dedicated base for crews.
Since the closure of the ambulance station on Leicester Road four years ago crew members have been taking their breaks at Phoenix House on Nottingham Road.
But that arrangement has now been ended by East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS) with staff now being permanently based 10 miles away at Oakham.
The organisation insisted at the time of the switch to Phoenix House that its long-term plan was to establish a new station or hub in Melton and EMAS has confirmed this is still their aim at some point in the future.
The Melton Times was contacted by an experienced ambulance crew member, who declined to be named, who said patients’ lives were being risked because of the extra time it would take to get to the area.
She said: “We used to have two crews covering Melton, one during the day and one at night, and I don’t think people are aware that there is no longer cover 24/7 in the town.
“If you compare the populations of Melton and Loughborough they are pretty similar but they have three ambulance crews and we don’t now have any in Melton.
“We are often sent out to Peterborough or Northampton now we are based in Oakham and a Loughborough crew has to come over to Melton.
“Local knowledge is massive when it comes to the ambulance service. We know all the back roads and we also know when we can bring patients to be treated at Latham House which crews from other areas may not be aware of.”
The paramedic who contacted us said morale was at all time low among colleagues.
She added: “We have an ageing population in Melton and there is a risk to them with the lack of local ambulance cover,” she added.
“It does take us longer to get to patients in Melton now and you then are greeted by someone who is in pain and who then has a go at you because they’ve had to wait for the ambulance to arrive.”
EMAS confirmed crews were no longer taking breaks at Phoenix House in Melton.
The organisation says that, on average, it receives a new 999 call every 34 seconds and that when an ambulance crew has started their shift, it is very rare for them to return to their station until their meal break several hours later.
Ambulances which respond to call-outs in Melton, and other towns in the region, may well have started a shift from a base many miles away, say EMAS.
Richard Lyne, general manager of Leicestershire at EMAS said: “We have not changed the ambulance cover in Melton but as part of the national Ambulance Response Programme have increased the overall number of ambulances across Leicestershire.
“We are a mobile healthcare provider and our staff travel in ambulance vehicles to where help is needed.
“If a patient from Melton called 999, we would send the nearest, most appropriate available crew, regardless of where they started their day at work.
“We are currently in discussions to find a more appropriate, alternative base in Melton.“