The future of Grantham’s ambulance station looks to be secure after plans to radically alter the way the East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS) operates were approved this week.
Recommendations put forward to the service’s trust board included a ‘super-station’ for Grantham. Although great news for Grantham, the proposals on the whole are controversial as the currently operated 66 ambulance stations are to be reduced to nine hubs, 19 ambulance stations and 108 community stations. EMAS says the changes will improve response times and allow a better service.
Last GASP, an action group which formed last year when EMAS announced an initial plan to have just a small community post in Grantham, are calling the approval a “victory for common sense”.
Member Coun Ian Selby said: “This is a positive step in the right direction towards our community receiving the kind of service that will be acceptable to our residents.
“There is still much more work to do with further investment in ambulances and staff also required.
“This decision also proves that the consultation was not a ‘done-deal’ from the begining as many people thought it was. EMAS have shown good leadership and deserve much credit for listening to the 12,876 signiture petition and the voice of reason in our community.
“We must be continually vigilant. It was unthinkable to even consider downgrading a town like Grantham with a growing population and in a strategically prime place in the East Midlands. I now hope that the wider business community recognise that EMAS see Grantham as a place of strategic importance and a place to invest. It’s time to talk the town up and encourage inward investment in our town.
“May I take this opportunity to say a big thank you to everyone that signed the petition and to everyone that assisted with the petition. Grantham’s shops, pubs etc were magnificent, especially the Co-op on Princess Drive. I am most proud of my fellow Last GASP action group campaigners; Mark Bartlett, Mark Kieran, Susan and Malcolm Swinburn, Cllr Bruce Wells, Cllr Mike Cook, Libby Simpson, Liz Gill, Robert Nash, Marie Lowry, Frazer Marshall, Steven Baker. You have done our community a great service.”
EMAS director of finance Jon Sergeant told Coun Selby after the board meeting on Monday that the strength of feeling of Grantham people had a “big impact” on the decision to promise a ‘super-station’ for the town.
He added that the station would be located within a quarter of a mile of the current station in Beacon Lane, if not on the current site itself.
l Meanwhile, Lincolnshire’s health scrutiny committee has said it will write to the Secretary of State to ask for EMAS’s “flawed” consultation to be reviewed – with the committee’s ultimate goal being a return to a dedicated ambulance service for the county.
The decision to write to the Government was made after the committee expressed concerns over EMAS’s recent consultation process and its ambulance response times.
Coun Christine Talbot, committee chairman, said: “On behalf of all residents in Lincolnshire – who deserve, and are not receiving the best response times from their ambulance service – the health scrutiny committee for Lincolnshire has decided to ask the Secretary of State to review EMAS’s consultation.
“We believe the consultation is flawed; key parties were not invited to comment, new options not consulted on, and both public and stakeholder events poorly attended.
“Despite the goalposts changing, and new options being introduced at the 11th hour, EMAS’s proposals still entirely fail to address how they will start meeting response time targets for our county.”