Lincolnshire County Council requests review of ‘flawed’ ambulance service consultation

Lincolnshire County Council’s Health Scrutiny Committee is requesting a review of East Midlands Ambulance Service’s (EMAS) new plans, as it believes them to be “flawed”.

The committee plans to write to the Secretary of State for the review after a recent meeting expressed concerns over the EMAS consultation process and response times.

EMAS proposed last year to remove the ambulance stations in Lincolnshire and install Community Ambulance Posts, Standby Points and in some areas state-of-the art “Super Stations”.

The service believes these hubs and points will result in better response times and care.

Councillor Christine Talbot, Chairman of the Health Scrutiny Committee for Lincolnshire, said: “We believe the consultation is flawed; key parties were not invited to comment, new options not consulted on, and both public and stakeholder events poorly attended.

“Despite the goalposts changing, and new options being introduced at the 11th hour, EMAS’ proposals still entirely fail to address how they will start meeting response time targets for our county.

“EMAS has not met targets for the last 21 months in Lincolnshire and this isn’t good enough. It is not acceptable for voluntary organisations such as LIVES and other emergency services, who make a valuable contribution to response times, to prop up the ambulance service.

“The committee therefore has no confidence that EMAS’ pledge of “Being the Best” will happen in Lincolnshire without considerable extra financing and will therefore be referring the matter to the Secretary of State.

“Our ultimate goal is to return a dedicated ambulance service to the county.”

Better service for residents

Lincoln MP Karl McCartney visited Lincoln County Hospital on March 21 alongside the Health Minister, Dr Dan Poulter.

He said: “I’m pleased that they’re obviously examining what the ambulance service have done, I’m not sure of the full details of the consultation project and the process that has been followed, but these consultations are in a way set down in statute, and there’s a quite easy template to follow, so I’d be surprised if they haven’t followed the process they should have if they’re been called to answer by the Scrutiny Committee at the County Council.

“I want to make sure the the service my constituents are provided with by the ambulance serve are as good as, if not better than, anywhere else in the country.

“I’ve spent some time with those working in the ambulance service in Lincoln and across Lincolnshire going out on calls etc, and I know how hard they work, but this is more management issues, and what resources are put forward for the service to ensure my constituents receive the level of service they require.”

A statement from EMAS argued that the service is dedicated to improving response times and patient care, and these plans will help.

“Our plans for Lincolnshire will improve response times. Similar plans have worked very well for rural areas in other areas of the country.

“There’s no guarantee that a devolved ambulance service for Lincolnshire would be effective. When Lincolnshire had its own service the performance targets were less exacting. Such a service would also cost more as it would need its own bureaucracy.

“In Lincolnshire we’re proposing to have four hubs, six ambulance stations and 23 community ambulance stations. This means full fleet services (mechanics to maintain and repair vehicles) will be available in four locations in Lincolnshire. Currently there are no fleet services in the county.

“Our aim is to improve response times, patient care and the working life of our staff and we believe these changes, together with the additional investment needed, help us meet these aims.”