Ambulance stations sold off in shake-up

Ambulance stations in Shropshire are being sold off and moved to new locations as part of major changes to the way the service is run.

Ambulance stations sold off in shake-up

Ambulance stations in Shropshire are being sold off and moved to new locations as part of major changes to the way the service is run.

Bosses say they want to channel more resources into frontline ambulance provision instead of spending thousands of pounds running buildings.

And it will mean a revamp of the ambulance cover with two new 'hubs' created in Telford and Shrewsbury to maintain and prepare vehicles.

The latest ambulance stations to be put on the market are Tweedale in Telford and Innage Lane in Bridgnorth, which went on sale today.

Tweedale will be replaced by a new facility at the nearby Cuckoo Oak Industrial Estate and Bridgnorth will be replaced by a community ambulance station within the town's police station in Tasley.

Shrewsbury's deteriorating ambulance station in Abbey Foregate will also go up for sale in the future.

Oswestry's ambulance station is also due to be sold off.

Newport, which shared a building with the fire service, will be moving to the town's cottage care centre.

Community ambulance stations will also be added to areas where there hasn't been a station before, including Church Stretton.

A suitable alternative premises is being sought in Craven Arms.

In north Shropshire, Whitchurch Ambulance Station is due to become a joint police and ambulance station after West Mercia Police bought the building.

Market Drayton has not had an ambulance station for 20 years and currently shares with the fire station.

Paramedics in Ludlow also currently share facilities with the fire station but will be moving to the town's hospital to have a base there.

The changes will see ambulance workers' skills increased with more patients treated at the scene rather than being taken to hospital if it is not needed.

Chris Kowalik, ambulance service spokesman, said: "In total, there will be 15 sites in the county from where West Midlands Ambulance Service resources will be able to respond.

"Two of them will be hubs, the other 13 will be community ambulance stations. Despite this, the amount spent on estates is significantly reduced."

Mr Kowalik added: "The new community ambulance stations will be leased at a fraction of the costs associated with the currently owned buildings.

"The savings made on these buildings will be channelled into the frontline ambulance service instead.

"The current level of ambulance cover in Shropshire will be maintained, but the ambulance service provided for county will increase overall with the introduction of community paramedic schemes in both Bridgnorth and Tweedale.

"Dedicated to their respective areas, community paramedics are paramedics with additional training in advanced patient assessment and procedures.

"They will be able to treat many more patients at the scene rather than them being conveyed to an A&E department," Mr Kowalik said.

In addition to responding to 999 calls, the role of the community paramedics will be to liaise with other areas of health and social care and ensure the population they serve receive the best health service possible, while ensuring the ambulance service through 999 is used appropriately.

Derek White, chairman of the Joint Telford & Wrekin Council and Shropshire Council health scrutiny committee, said they had looked at the changes and were happy with what was planned.

Councillor William Parr, Shropshire councillor for Bridgnorth East and Astley Abbotts, said: "It is imperative that any service provided by the ambulance service has to be an excellent service and we don't lose any quality with the sale of the station."

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