GMB OUTRAGE AT PLANS TO REDUCE AMBULANCE COVER IN THE STAFFORDSHIRE MOORLANDS
The decision to scrap the current provision will surely be a detriment to patient care for the people of Leek and surrounding areas says GMB
GMB, the union for ambulance staff, has expressed serious concerns for public safety after learning of plans from West Midlands Ambulance Service to scrap the current provision of a 24 hour rapid response vehicle (RRV) in Leek.
The RRV covers the town of leek, with a population of over 20,000, as well as the as the surrounding areas. Along with nearby rural communities, the provision also covers remote beauty spots such as the Roaches, Tittesworth Reservoir, Rudyard Lake and the Peak District which attract an estimated 3.35 million visitors each year.
The RRV is currently dispatched to emergency calls from Leek, until an NHS ambulance from Stoke-on-Trent is available to take over, at which time the RRV is available to respond to further incidents.
Colin Griffiths, organiser for the GMB, said “The decision to scrap the current provision will surely be a detriment to patient care for the people of Leek and surrounding areas, and in the worst case scenario it will lead to an avoidable loss of life.
The current provision is set be replaced by an ambulance which, once utilised to transport a patient, will be unavailable to respond to further emergency calls in Leek and the Moorlands.
We understand that a ‘replacement’ ambulance will be dispatched to Leek to provide cover, but this is subject to a second ambulance being available and not tied up on calls or, as is being increasingly reported nationally, delayed at a hospital. Local ambulance crews have reported an increase in how often West Midlands ambulance service is at ‘status zero’ meaning that there are no ambulances available.
The ambulance staff work tremendously hard and are committed to providing the best care possible, but Stoke and Leek are approximately 12 miles apart, and as hard as they try they cannot make that journey in the critical first 8 minutes in the event of a cardiac arrest.
To make this decision without consultation is bewildering, and with the seriousness of the situation, I would have thought public consultation would have been instigated by WMAS.
In May 2016 WMAS submitted a report to its board of directors which stated that one of its priorities for 2016-17 was to engage with more with rural communities following concerns raised by HOSC and Healthwatch, it’s disappointing that the Trust have chosen to ignore this priority already.
West Midlands Ambulance Service has similar RRVs schemes operating in Biddulph and Cheadle, which we believe may also be under review and run the risk of being axed in the near future.”
Contact: Sam Jones on 01834 416067 or Colin Griffiths on 07957 264612 or GMB press office on 07970 863411 or 01139 182691
Notes to editors
1 Link to Leek town council homepage
2 Link to Staffordshire Moorland tourism study http://www.staffsmoorlands.gov.uk/sites/default/files/documents/pages/Staffordshire%20Moorlands%20Tourism%20Study.pdf
3 Link to Guardian article ‘Ambulance delays linked to 35 deaths in past five years.’
4 Link to Report ‘A&E delays: Why did patients wait longer last winter.’