Market Drayton mayor says ambulance station closures need rethink and consultation with town councils

The mayor of Market Drayton said he expected more dialogue between town councils and the ambulance service before final decisions were made on ambulance station closures in the county.

Councillor Roy Aldcroft
Councillor Roy Aldcroft

Councillor Roy Aldcroft said he was "extremely shocked" to hear the Oswestry and Craven Arms community ambulance stations will be closed for good next month, with Market Drayton's station decision still under review.

West Midlands Ambulance Service (WMAS) announced the review of 10 ambulance stations including four in Shropshire, saying it needed to make sure it was making the best of all of its resources.

It was recently announced that the Oswestry and Craven Arms sites will be closed from next month. But a decision is yet to be made for Market Drayton and Bridgnorth.

The service has been under huge pressure over recent months as it has struggled to cope with a record number of 999 calls.

But the mayor of Market Drayton, who was, until his retirement in 1992, the senior operations officer for the then Shropshire Ambulance Service, says the plans need more thought.

In a statement, Mr Aldcroft said: "I was extremely shocked to find that West Midlands Ambulance Service have now decided to close the Oswestry and Craven Arms community ambulance stations, I had thought they were still under review.

"I was given to understand that the service was reviewing a number of closures and would have expected some dialogue with both the town councils, of the four towns Oswestry, Bridgnorth, Market Drayton and Craven Arms, and Shropshire Council prior to any firm decisions being made."

Market Drayton Town Council will meet tomorrow to discuss sending a formal response to the chief executive of WMAS, Mr Aldcroft said.

He added: "The location of all these stations are all along major routes used by ambulances throughout the county. They provide welfare facilities for hard worked crews from all over the West Midlands. Providing 'rolling cover' as crews proceed to and from one job to another.

"I agree that the 'local' crew may not be in the station for much of their shift, but passing crews are often in the area and use these stations to take a break or standby during bad weather snow and floods.

"I am still of the view that to have all crews returning to hubs in Shrewsbury or Telford from the furthest points in Shropshire, in such a large county is worthy of further thought and consultation with the communities involved."

The final shift for Craven Arms and Oswestry stations will end on October 4, with two Worcestershire stations – Evesham and Malvern – also closing.

A WMAS spokesman said the service wanted to reassure the public that the closures would not mean ambulances taking longer to get to them in an emergency.

“There is a common misconception that where an ambulance starts or finishes a shift will have a substantial impact on the area that it is based in,” said the spokesman.

“What must be remembered is that as soon as an ambulance is available it will be sent to the nearest available case so that we can minimise the time a patient waits to be seen.”

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