Concern over plan for more standby ambulance points
PARAMEDICS and union officials have raised concerns over potential "cost-cutting" plans that could see more ambulance staff working from standby points.
Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust is looking in to adopting the "hub and spoke" model, which would include fixed stations, standby points and roadside stopping points, paving the way for many crews to work on a more mobile basis.
The trust's estates strategy says 12 "hubs" could be created, including in Hull and on the south east and north east coasts of East Yorkshire, with a total investment of more than £30 million.
Meanwhile, Preston ambulance station could be co- located with the fire service, or even be run from Hull.
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Ambulance service officials said there are "no firm plans" to close stations and the move may not be suitable for more rural areas.
But Ray Gray, regional officer for Unison, said: "They can change crews at the standby points and the only time a vehicle would go back to the hub is when it was faulty or needed to be restocked.
"An ambulance station is not just a station. It's like telling firemen they haven't got a station to go to. They are no different to any other emergency service.
"This can only be a cost-cutting measure and it's not a moral or decent way to run an ambulance service."
The trust said plans are not set in stone and a further paper will be considered by its board in the coming weeks.
It currently has 62 ambulance stations and 38 standby points, with "a number" of buildings no longer in appropriate locations to meet the needs of the first half of the 21st century.
A paramedic, who did not wish to be named, said: "We have already got enough on our plates with cost-cutting exercises that are unpopular with the staff.
"If they were to go with a "superstation", it would add more turmoil and stress."
Rod Barnes, the service's executive director of finance and performance, said the trust is "simply planning for the future" to continue to meet the needs of patients and the "requirements of a modern ambulance service".
He said: "The trust is looking at the possibility of introducing a 'hub and spoke' model in some more urban parts of the county but no firm plans have been discussed or approved at this stage.
"Patients' interests are at the heart of everything we do and any plans to change our estates configuration would support our ability to continue to deliver the highest quality, safe and responsive service to those calling 999 in Yorkshire and the Humber."