Worcestershire ambulance 'superhubs' approved
Plans to sell three ambulance stations and create two new "superhubs" in Worcestershire have been approved.
West Midlands Ambulance Service said that stations on Spetchley Road, Worcester and Barnsley Hall Drive, Bromsgove would get a £1.45m upgrade.
Both will acquire a 24-hour vehicle and ambulance preparation depot.
Three stations, in Kidderminster, Evesham and Redditch, will be replaced with an increased number of lower-cost community stations.
The ambulance service said the lower-cost stations would "ensure a faster response to emergencies".
These include three community ambulance stations in Redditch, three in Kidderminster and three in Worcester, in addition to the hub in Spetchley Road.
Ambulances prepared at the hubs in Worcester and Bromsgrove will disperse to community ambulance stations around the county from where they will respond to medical emergencies.
Advanced community paramedics will also be trained to treat patients in their own homes instead of at A&E. The ambulance service said this would reduce "unnecessary trips to hospital".
However, Ray Salmon, regional organiser for Unison, is concerned about the affect the changes could have on both staff and patients.
He said: "For some patients, for example stroke or cardiac cases, there may be a need to get them to hospital as soon as possible.
"If the rapid-response vehicle then has to call for an ambulance, particularly in rural areas, there's going to be a prolonged delay before they actually get to the patient, and overall that will impact on the quality of care that the patient receives."
The changes are part of the Make Ready scheme which is due to be fully implemented in Worcestershire next year.
Ambulance trust chairman Sir Graham Meldrum said: "It will undoubtedly bring real benefits for patients by allowing us to invest even more money in frontline services.
"Once fully implemented, Make Ready will free up resources that can be re-invested in patient care."