Petitions bid to save ambulance station
PETITIONS have been launched to save Keynsham ambulance station, which could close as part of a review aimed at improving the South Western Ambulance Service’s performance.
The 26 staff at the town’s station said they had been told the premises would shut by the end of the year and they would be moved to central Bristol.
However, a spokesman for the service said it would not reveal any details of specific station changes until it had completed a series of briefing events with its workers.
Both online and paper petitions opposing any closure are running, with the online campaign already attracting more than 1,785 names.
It said a growing population due to increased housebuilding meant the local service should remain. Many residents were elderly and there were Turn to Page 2
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concerns about ambulance crews meeting response times if they had further to travel.
The change.org petition said: “It would be difficult for ambulances based in Bristol to make the required response times, especially for the category one patients, whose lives could be totally compromised.”
Petitioners said they understood a revised model might take years to implement and called for the town to keep its station until that happened.
South Western Ambulance Service said an extra £12 million aimed at reducing demand and improving response times would result in more than 240 extra frontline staff and allowed a review of the location of crews, vehicles and stations.
A service spokesman said: “The demand on the ambulance service and the nature of the calls we receive has changed significantly over time and some of our stations are no longer located where we need them to be. Many of our stations are also in need of significant repair and refurbishment.”
He said crews were rarely at a station as they were out treating patients or on standby elsewhere but they would always have a base station to book on to and off shifts and for breaks.
He said: “There will be a small number of changes to stations linked to the implementation of this plan, including changes to existing facilities that need updating because we have outgrown them, but there will not be significant numbers of station closures.”
He also said having more staff was “a fantastic opportunity to make a real difference to our staff and our patients’ lives”.
Jo Fowles, South West Ambulance and Allied Health Unison branch chair, said: “We welcome the planned investment and extra resources being proposed by the trust as this is something we’ve been calling for for years.
“But our members are concerned at plans to close ambulance stations and centralise operations into one or two hubs for the Bristol area.
“After a number of occasions in the past where the trust has promised that similar changes will result in better working conditions, more support and less occasions where crews are working long over the end of their shifts haven’t happened, so staff are understandably cynical about these proposals.”
Keynsham ambulance station staff said: “We feel like we are all part of a very special family who have served the local community for many years. We were very sad to be told of the plans to close our station and feel that it is in the best interest of the community for us to remain at Keynsham.”
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