Review call for ‘flawed’ EMAS consultation

Moving ambulance in Boston.
Moving ambulance in Boston.

Calls have been made for a consultation into ambulance services in Lincolnshire to be reviewed, following concerns the entire process was flawed.

Lincolnshire County Council’s Health Scrutiny Committee is planning to write to health minister Jeremy Hunt to request that a consultation carried out by East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS) is looked into – and the group is hoping it will result in a return to a dedicated service for the county.

It comes after committee members said they were worried over poor response times and the recent consultation into plans to replace 65 ambulance stations countywide with just 11 so-called hubs and a number of smaller stations. One of the hubs is to be in the Boston area. The original proposals – for 13 hubs and smaller stations – were fiercely opposed in a consultation last year, and have now altered.

Coun Christine Talbot, chairman of the committee, said: “On behalf of all residents in Lincolnshire – who deserve, and are not receiving the best response times from their ambulance service – the health scrutiny committee for Lincolnshire has today decided to ask the secretary of state to review EMAS’ consultation.

“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.”

She added that the committee hoped there would be a return to a dedicated ambulance service for the county, as members had ‘no confidence’ that EMAS could deliver services without considerable extra funding.