Council urged to join campaign over Shropshire ambulance station closures

Shropshire Council is being urged to join a campaign to save four ambulance stations threatened with closure.

A call for a campaign to keep the ambulance stations open will be considered by councillors next week
A call for a campaign to keep the ambulance stations open will be considered by councillors next week

Councillors representing the four towns affected – Oswestry, Bridgnorth, Market Drayton and Craven Arms – will plead their case to colleagues at a meeting of the full council next week.

If a majority of members vote in support of the campaign, council leader Lezley Picton and chief executive Andy Begley will write to West Midlands Ambulance Service (WMAS) expressing the authority’s opposition to the closures.

They will also write to county MPs asking for the matter to be raised with the secretary of state for health and social care, Sajid Javid.

WMAS has confirmed the Oswestry and Craven Arms stations will close on October 4, with the fate of Market Drayton and Bridgnorth not yet decided.

The service says the closures will not impact response times or crew availability, which is why there has been no consultation.

But a motion to be tabled at next week’s meeting by Councillor Roy Aldcroft, who represents Market Drayton East, says he remains concerned about the proposals.

The motion is being supported by Councillors David Evans, who represents Church Stretton and Craven Arms, Kirstie Hurst-Knight, who represents Bridgnorth East and Astley Abbotts, and John Price who represents Oswestry East, and adds that they are “unhappy that the town councils have not been advised or consulted about this review”.

The motion reads: “The public have always been keen to support their local ambulance stations.

“During the 1990s the service was reliant from all four of these areas to buy lifesaving paramedic equipment and supporting Community First Responder Schemes.

“The community identifies with its ambulance station in a similar way to community fire stations.

“Given that ambulance crews are mobile almost as soon as their shift starts, the ‘local crew’ may not spend much time at their station. That includes the hubs at Shrewsbury and Donnington.

“With that we agree, however, those crews are travelling areas all over the West Midlands and may make use of these community stations for short periods instead of returning to the hubs at Shrewsbury and Donnington.

“The stations deemed for closure are all in the vicinity of major routes, the A5, A49, A53 and A442, used by many ambulances as they answer or return from calls.

"These community ambulance stations give an added layer of flexibility for crew welfare and standby along major routes. After all we don’t want to return to the days of using laybys as standby points.

“Community ambulance stations provide a backup in remote parts of the county where crews can get a break, wherever they started from.

“This provides an element of ‘rolling cover’ throughout this, the largest inland county in the UK particularly in a county with regular floods and snow challenges.

“The amount of money saved will be minimal, just enough to equip a modern ambulance, rather than the ambulance or its crew.”

Councillor Aldcroft says the proposals do not address the biggest drain on the service’s resources – when crews are held up outside hospitals, unable to handover patients due to a lack of beds.

The motion will be discussed at a meeting on Thursday at Theatre Severn, starting at 10am.

Sorry, we are not accepting comments on this article.

Top Stories

More from the Shropshire Star

UK & International News