Ambulance watch: Ambulances held by their own depot in Costessey due to busy A47 junction

Ambulances are being held up yards from their own depot, affecting response times, according to paramedics.

Calls to improve the Longwater interchange on the A47, which ambulances leaving their depot in Costessey must pass through, have been backed by Norfolk County Council, Costessey Parish Council and the East of England Ambulance Service Trust.

But an upgrade is expected to cost �30m.

Paramedics who use the depot, on Alex Moorhouse Way, described the struggles they can face when responding to 999 calls.

One said: 'It is the wrong place for a depot. In the winter it is a nightmare.

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'They get the gritters out, but you are in a seven-tonne ambulance that is front wheel drive.' Another, who did not wish to be named, said the junction was difficult to get out of at rush hour.

He said: 'We don't think about it every day, but between 3pm and 6pm, and sometimes in the morning, you are in trouble.'

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A spokesman for the EEAST said they wanted to see the interchange upgraded, but had no plans to move the ambulance base. Some improvements are being made at the Longwater roundabouts including changes to road markings to encourage vehicles to follow a better path.

But Norfolk County Council estimated that a full upgrade would cost �30m. A spokesman said: 'We will continue to look for ways of reducing the problems at the existing junction, but major reconstruction is the only long-term solution, and this would cost around �30m.'

It is hoped that improvements will ultimately be funded through cash contributions made by developers building in the area.

Tim East, county councillor for Costessey, said: 'It is not ideally situated because the entire estate and the retail park only have one exit. As a result, ambulances inevitably get caught up.'

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