Fears over ambulance cuts at Cromer and North Walsham

Two pilots escaped after their gliders collided today

Two pilots escaped after their gliders collided today

Archant Norfolk Photographic © 2009

Ambulance chiefs are being urged to think again about an overhaul that could result in a significant cut in cover across north Norfolk.

There are fears that the possible changes will see traditional ambulances cut from two to one in Cromer and one to zero in North Walsham.

The scenario, which is among possibilities as the East of England Ambulance Service (EEAS) looks to reduce critical care ambulances and increase its rapid response cars, has been branded “unacceptable”.

Cromer town councillor Vera Woodcock said the service was “not running properly at the moment” as she cited two examples of people who had to wait up to eight-and-a-half hours for an ambulance to arrive.

And North Walsham county councillor Paul Morse said it was “appalling” to imagine a scenario where a town of 13,000 residents had “no traditional ambulance”.

However, an EEAS spokesman said the Cromer and North Walsham changes - revealed by the union Unison - were not set in stone, and any overhaul was still at the early stages of consultation.

Speaking at Monday’s town council meeting, Mrs Woodcock said: “I think it’s unacceptable that they should be considering reducing staffing at Cromer. The current level of service is not good enough, and yet they are looking to make it worse.”

She cited two recent examples in Suffield Park of women who had waited for five and eight-and-a-half hours for ambulances to come from King’s Lynn and Mildenhall.

Mrs Woodcock said: “The service is not running properly at the moment. We cannot take this lying down. We want an improved service.”

Marion Saunders said it was right to “fight for people in Cromer”, but added that one of the reasons for deteriorating ambulance response times was “the number of 999 calls made unnecessarily”.

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