Ambulance stations in Norfolk could be reduced from 15 to three as part of bid to share facilities
- Credit: Archant 2013
The number of dedicated ambulance stations in Norfolk could be reduced from 15 to three as part of plans to share more facilities with other emergency and community services.
As part of plans to modernise its estate, the East of England Ambulance Service Trust (EEAST) is considering operating under what it calls a 'hub and spoke' model.
Currently there are 15 stations in Norfolk, 12 in Suffolk and 10 in Cambridgeshire. Under the new plans there would be 'hubs' located at or near accident and emergency departments, including three each in Norfolk and Cambridgeshire and two in Suffolk. In Norfolk the hubs would be based in King's Lynn, Norwich and Great Yarmouth, while in Suffolk they would be based at Bury St Edmunds and Ipswich.
In Cambridgeshire the bases would be Peterborough, Huntingdon and Cambridge.
There would be 18 in total across the East of England and a third of those would be so-called 'super-hubs', which take on extra administrative functions. The 'spokes' would be a series of community ambulance stations, possibly at police or fire stations.
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The plans would take place over the next seven years and see £42m of capital investment, including new training facilities at Barton Mills and a new emergency operations centre. A report seen by EEAST's board in March said the assumption is there would not be a super-hub in Norfolk. The nearest ones would be Bury St Edmunds and Huntingdon.
Suffolk Coastal MP Therese Coffey wrote to EEAST's chief executive about her concerns.
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She said: 'I'm worried that the considerable progress the ambulance trust has made in getting people in rural areas the appropriate medical care on time will be put at risk.'
Great Yarmouth MP Brandon Lewis said the trust must have patient safety as its focus.
EEAST said its plans do not amount to a closure programme.
A spokesman said: 'This is about making the most of our estate and working with partners to share more facilities and buildings to help increase our presence in the community, especially in rural areas.
'The existing estate does not support the requirements of a modern ambulance service.'
Out of the 10 ambulance trusts in England, EEAST spends the most as a percentage of non-pay expenditure on its estates.