England

East Midlands Ambulance Service: Bosses scrap super-hub plans

EMAS ambulance
Image caption Campaigners argued the EMAS proposals to close some stations and open a few regional hubs should be dropped

Ambulance managers in the East Midlands have decided to scrap an ambitious plan for a series of regional super-hubs.

In March, East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS) "paused" a move to sell off more than half its stations, but that plan has now been dropped.

Unions and some local residents had protested against the proposals.

The earlier plan also envisioned a series of community stations shared with fire or police services.

The regional ambulance service, which covers Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Rutland, Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire and Nottinghamshire, currently has 67 ambulance stations, but four are vacant.

The EMAS board said it would develop a new strategy for the ambulance service's estates.

Rob Sissons

BBC Health Correspondent, East Midlands

Image copyright EMAS
Image caption The ambulance service was criticised for selling some stations and closing others down

East Midlands Ambulance Service has more than 60 stations, which are valued at £45m.

The original vision to sell off around half the ambulance stations caused public outcry and was likened by some to selling off the family silver.

Of course you can only do that once.

Bosses thought that selling off sites could bring in rich pickings but there were protests, petitions and even a Parliamentary debate.

Now we are told the financial case for going to fewer, bigger stations simply doesn't add up.

This is a case of "back to the drawing board" and a new vision should be ready by March.

Some stations are already up for sale with offers in excess of £650,000 for the West Bridgford station.

In future I'd expect more ambulance closures but it will be a more phased plan which might take some of the political heat out of the move.

You could call it evolution rather than revolution.

The earlier plan, announced in 2012, was scrapped because of vocal opposition as well as the high implementation costs.

The report now calls on the ambulance service to "review and update the existing estate to address major issues" but still includes plans for a series of local community ambulance stations.

EMAS said it would also consult "partners and stakeholders" and listen to their feedback.

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