Union to fight 999 station closures

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A NATIONAL trade union is challenging an East Midlands Ambulance Service (Emas) shake-up which could see 66 of its stations close, including Melton.

GMB, the union for ambulance staff, has said it will do everything in its power to persuade Emas bosses to think again.

The union has slammed plans to improve response times stating that ‘it will turn a lifesaving service into a postcode lottery’ and has published a report, detailing its beliefs that the decision, announced in July, is too extreme and will lead to poor emergency cover.

Publication of the study followed the launch of Emas’ public consultation last week.

The Emas proposals, called Being the Best, could see Melton reduced to a ‘community ambulance post’ likely to be based within a fire, police or other healthcare building in the town.

The plans also include the introduction of ‘standby points’ where crews would wait for calls and ‘hubs’ where crews would start their shift and collect their fully-equipped vehicles. The hubs for Leicestershire would be based in Leicester and Loughborough.

Colin Todd, GMB organiser for East Midlands Ambulance Service, said: “GMB is totally opposing the plans in its current form.

“We will actively take part in the consultations and have sent a list of questions to Emas to ascertain how they can make the claims about improved service, better staff welfare and the fiscal robustness of the proposals, we want to see evidence to support these claims.”

Byron Rhodes, Leicestershire County Councillor for Belvoir division has also raised concerns about the Emas plans, he said: “I am not against Emas closing the stations but they don’t appear to be deploying an adequate number of ambulances for the borough.

“We have had to put up with a poor service for years; now it seems likely to get much worse.”

Phil Milligan Emas chief executive, said: “We made a commitment to work closely with our staff and unions on this issue. All feedback received from our consultation exercise will be considered and if the evidence is compelling, we will consider revising our proposals.”

The Emas consultation runs until December 17.

l To take part visit www.emas.nhs.uk or email beingthebest@emas.nhs.uk