Wait for details over 999 plans
THE people of Keynsham deserve to have a say on the future of the town’s ambulance station, say councillors.
The town council is angry that it was not told about the possible closure of the 999 base and was still not given information after it requested it once news of the review of South Western Ambulance Service’s provision was revealed.
It has now written to Ken Wenman, chief executive of the trust that runs the ambulance service, to offer to host a public meeting.
The council says the public deserve clarification and should be consulted on any proposed closure.
More than 2,000 people have signed a petition urging that the station be kept open, particularly in the light of a large predicted growth in the population of Keynsham and the high proportion of residents aged over 65.
The town clerk, Dr Cheryl Scott, says in her letter to Mr Wenman that councillors were already concerned about response times for ambulance calls and feel sure that closure will only make matters worse.
South Western Ambulance Service told the Voice last month that it could not reveal any details of specific station changes until it had completed a series of briefing events with its workers.
But the 26 staff at Keynsham station said they wete told the premises would shut by the end of the year and they would be moved to central Bristol.
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 onto 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.”
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.”