Ambulance campaigners step up their efforts across south Shropshire

Campaigners are stepping up a gear in their efforts to get an ambulance hub or a rapid response service returned to south Shropshire - but there is no sign of the 999 service performing a U-turn.

Campaigners outside the office of Ludlow MP Philip Dunne
Campaigners outside the office of Ludlow MP Philip Dunne

Darren Childs, of Ludlow, launched a petition after his baby girl was left waiting more than half an hour for paramedics to arrive after calling 999 -it has now ballooned to nearly 4,000 names.

On Friday Mr Childs and a host of other campaigners descended on the Ludlow constituency office of local MP Philip Dunne. They were hoping that their MP would sign the petition but left with only a promise that he would present it to Parliament.

"I'm afraid it was Philip Dunne-nothing," said Mr Childs who is extending his campaign to Bridgnorth, Craven Arms and Church Stretton. "By the end of April we hope to have 10,000 of Mr Dunne's constituents who have signed the petition."

Even if their attempts to get their MP to sign were not successful, Mr Childs has other irons in the fire. He's planning to go direct to health secretary Sajid Javid, and has a meeting due with West Midlands Ambulance Service at Ludlow Town Council.

"We have people who are willing to take paper petitions around from door to door," said Mr Childs. "It means that many of the people in Ludlow and other towns who cannot sign the online petition will be able to sign."

Mr Childs said on January 15 his and Cally's 12 month old daughter Myla had been "fitting and unable to breath for 15 minutes and it took over 50 minutes for an ambulance to arrive.

"On this occasion there were no Shropshire, Telford or Wrekin ambulances available and one had to come from another county.

"Regardless of where the ambulances have to come from Shrewsbury, Telford, Hereford, Birmingham, Wolverhampton, they all take around one hour to arrive in Ludlow. For a heart attack, stroke, and other emergency this is to long.

"People are suffering and dying as a result of poor management and cost cutting and the situation is now beyond breaking point."

Little Myla is receiving treatment but Mr Childs is concerned that something similar could happen again.

Mr Childs is heartened by support from local councillors and support from Shropshire Council in a bid to reopen the town’s ambulance base which closed in 2018.

A spokesman for West Midlands Ambulance Service said reopening ambulance stations would "only make patients wait longer for an ambulance, not improve services."

The spokesman said: "The number of ambulances operating in South Shropshire has increased over the last few years as the trust has invested additional money in more staff and more ambulances.

"This has been assisted by closing seldom used buildings with the money reinvested in staff and vehicles that save lives.

"By closing the four community ambulance stations in Shropshire, we have been able to put the equivalent of an extra ambulance on the roads of Shropshire every single day.

"The data shows very clearly that re-opening them would only make patients wait longer for an ambulance, not improve services.

The spokesman rejected claims that ambulances have to travel to Ludlow from Telford or Shrewsbury.

"It is completely untrue to suggest that all ambulances that come to Ludlow and the surrounding area have to come from Telford and Shrewsbury," the spokesman said.

"Ambulances spend around half their time in the communities around the county only going back to the two towns when they take patients to one of the two hospitals.

“At the time of the call for Mr Childs’ daughter, all 27 ambulances in Shropshire were with patients.

"We therefore sent the nearest available ambulance, which was in Hereford.

"If there was a county-based ambulance service in Shropshire, that would not have happened and Mr Childs would have waited even longer.

"As a Trust, we are acutely aware of the challenges of providing an ambulance service in a rural area. Shropshire benefits to the tune of at least a dozen additional ambulances coming into the county from other areas every single day. If Shropshire were not part of WMAS, that would not happen.

“Our staff are working tirelessly to respond to patients as soon as we can. Unfortunately, long hospital handover delays do mean some patients are waiting longer for an ambulance to come to them than we would want.”

Ludlow MP Philip Dunne has been invited to respond.

To see details of the petition, visit https://www.change.org/Southshropshireambulance

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