Council bosses mobilise in bid to thwart ambulance hub plan
NORTH East Lincolnshire Council bosses will write to East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS) objecting to plans to close Grimsby's ambulance station.
As reported EMAS is proposing to replace the 70 existing ambulance stations with 13 "hubs" to create a "more streamlined service" to improve response times.
The hubs will act as bases for paramedics across the East Midlands, and will be supported by 131 tactical deployment points which will provide hot drinks and toilets for crews between jobs.
The move would see the closure of Grimsby's ambulance station in Gilbey Road with the nearest hub being at Elsham.
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Conservative group leader Keith Brookes (Con, Haverstoe), a former divisional commander with the ambulance service, secured cross-party backing for his motion, which he presented at last week's full council meeting.
However, he expressed anger that the ruling Labour group had "meddled" with the motion by putting forward an amendment which involved also writing to health secretary Jeremy Hunt and prime minister David Cameron over the issue.
Some Labour councillors said the EMAS proposals were a direct result of government cuts to the NHS.
Councillor Brookes said the changes would result in longer response times, increased fuel costs, and more staff finishing shifts late.
He also expressed concerns that the chosen location for the nearest hub, Elsham, was particularly prone to bad weather such as snow and fog.
Council leader Chris Shaw (Lab, Sidney Sussex) said closing ambulance stations would be a "retrograde step."
Defending the amendment to the motion, he added: "It is all right saying we will write to EMAS and the CTP and our two MPs. But they are not the ones cutting EMAS' budget. We need to write to the secretary of state."
Councillor Philip Jackson (Con, Waltham) called for more "imaginative thinking" from the emergency services.
He said: "Why can't the emergency services work together and share facilities? Why can't we have ambulances based at fire stations in North East Lincolnshire?
"This is another example of old-fashioned thinking in public services."