Bid to expand ambulance base on edge of Norwich

A man and a woman were taken to hospital after a two car crash on the A1101 on Tuesday evening Pictu

A man and a woman were taken to hospital after a two car crash on the A1101 on Tuesday evening Picture: Denise Bradley - Credit: copyright: Archant 2013

More ambulances could be called out to emergencies from a city station if a car parking plan is given the go-ahead.

A planning application to create an extra car park with 34 extra spaces at the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust base on John Hyrne Way, Costessey, on the edge of Norwich, has been submitted to South Norfolk Council by the trust.

The building and land, which has 33 car parking and 24 cycle spaces, has been used by the trust since 2008 and is home to 220 staff.

It is a maintenance unit where paramedics can restock equipment but some residents are concerned the trust is breaching the original planning conditions claiming ambulances are called from the base on emergency calls.

A supporting statement from the ambulance service said: "The trust plans to increase the use of the site further, subject to the trust gaining the required permissions. The trust is in the process of implementing a government initiative to improve service delivery to patients and this entails the trust providing more emergency ambulances and crews from the facility at Longwater.

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"It is our intention to add fleet services and additional make ready support. In order to achieve this, we will need to employ additional staff. The current site is at capacity and without providing parking it is difficult to attract staff."

An ambulance service spokesman said the car park application was for extra staff to be recruited to clean and restock ambulances so paramedics were free to respond to patients more quickly and keep more ambulances on the road.

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Costessey resident Christopher Mahn, who objected, said: "This ambulance station was granted permission in 2008 as a maintenance unit without planned despatch of ambulances on blues and twos. It is now busier than ever as a despatch location on 999 calls with ambulances travelling through the Longwater Retail Park and then straight down the Dereham Road to the city or along the A47. Congestion around the retail park has worsened considerably over 11 years.

"While I appreciate the need for expansion of the site, and I am not critical of the work they do, serious thought should be made to ensure no one is put at risk of delay when requiring emergency treatment at the hospital. It could be a matter of life or death."

Costessey Town Council recommended the plans were approved but did raise concerns that the original application had been for a maintenance depot not an emergency despatch centre.

Responding on behalf of the council, clerk Hilary Elias said: "There were already significant issues with the Longwater interchange where the local roads were at capacity and vehicles were known to have difficulty exiting the estate when called out on an emergency."

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