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Calls to scrap Diss ambulance cuts

PUBLISHED: 10:25 24 January 2013 | UPDATED: 10:25 24 January 2013

Archant Norfolk Photographic © 2009

Calls have been made to scrap plans to reduce the number of emergency ambulances stationed in Diss.

The East of England Ambulance Trust intends to replace one of the two 24-hour double-crewed emergency ambulances stationed in Diss with a one-man rapid response vehicle, operating 10 hours per day.

Since the announcement last year, the Act on Ambulances Campaign, run by the North Norfolk Labour Party (NNLP), said it had been contacted by a number of paramedics who believed that cuts could put lives at risk.

Meanwhile, south Norfolk MP Richard Bacon has called for the trust to reconsider its plans in a letter to the interim chief executive, Andrew Morgan.

“Although it’s good news that the trust is reviewing its clinical capacity, this review won’t report until after plans to replace one of Diss’s 24-hour emergency ambulances with a part-time rapid-response vehicle have gone ahead,” he said.

“Local people are already concerned over local ambulance cover, as Diss’s ambulances regularly wind up in Norwich, Ipswich and places even farther afield such as Luton.

“The proposed rapid response vehicle can’t transport patients to hospital, so these concerns will only be deepened if the trust goes ahead with its proposed changes.

“The trust cannot review its performance accurately if it makes sweeping changes to configuration, equipment and crewing arrangements before the review even takes place.

“I have urged Mr Morgan to call a halt to these changes at least until the trust’s review is complete”.

The NNLP said it was told by one paramedic, who did not want to be named in the press, that the changes would have a “massive” effect across the county, adding that rota-changes were due to be implemented from March 4.

A spokesman for the East of England Ambulance Trust said new rotas had been drawn up to accommodate the changes, announced last summer, and that 140 new frontline staff were being recruited.

She added: “It follows research that demonstrates this combination meets patients needs better and is a safe level of cover for the area while Diss will benefit from Norfolk as a whole getting more vehicles under the new rotas.

“Resources are not dedicated solely to one station or area and rarely sit there after a shift starts but instead are constantly moved about throughout the day within a much wider radius to go to where patients need them most.”

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