Cotswolds ambulance changes raise concerns

There are proposals to downgrade some ambulances in Gloucestershire to "patient support vehicles" with non-clinical staff on board.

The ambulance trust said it needed to save £4.3m over the next year.

A trust spokesman said the proposals would ensure highly-trained paramedics were available for more emergencies.

But Cotswold MP Geoffrey Clifton-Brown said concerns had been raised with him about whether there would be enough paramedics covering Cirencester.

The town currently has one 24-hour and one 12-hour paramedic vehicle, and a 24-hour emergency care practitioner car.

'Quite unacceptable'

The proposals mean the 12-hour vehicle would be replaced with a patient support vehicle without a blue light.

South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust said this vehicle would be used for non-emergency cases that had already been assessed by a nurse or doctor.

Wiltshire's biggest town, Swindon, has also been moved into the Cotswolds division meaning shared ambulance cover.

Mr Clifton-Brown said he had received emails from constituents and a member of ambulance staff, concerned about a drop in the number of paramedics in Cirencester.

He said: "I think it's quite unacceptable.

"It took me years of campaigning to get that extra ambulance in Cirencester and that's proposed to be taken away.

"If the one vehicle left in Cirencester is tied up in Swindon and another patient has a heart attack and needs drugs urgently within 20 minutes to save their life, it's putting somebody's life at risk."

Ken Wenman, chief executive of the South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust, said there was an ongoing consultation with staff about the proposals.

"We are changing the skill mix on some of our vehicles which is something we've done across the whole of the South West," he said.

He said a review had found the daytime paramedic vehicle in Cirencester spent only one third of its time on 999 calls.

Mr Wenman added that a significant proportion of calls to the service were from health professionals requiring transport to hospital for someone they had already fully assessed and was not an emergency.

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