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Ambulance stations face ‘downgrading’

Herne Bay building will become ‘community response post’

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RESPONSE POST: Herne Bay ambulance station

THREE ambulance stations are to be downgraded to ‘community response posts’. Ambulance officials say staff from Canterbury, Herne Bay and Deal will relocate to Thanet to a new state of the art centre where specialist teams prepare ambulances for paramedics before their shift starts.

The plans, due to come into force next month, will mean instead of dedicated ambulance stations in towns, there will be a network of nine response posts where ambulances can wait if they have no calls.

Senior operations manager Chris Stamp said:

“These posts will be located based on patient demand. Many of our ambulance stations were built more than 30 years ago and are not in the best position for responding to patients quickly. Improving patient outcomes and response times to patients requires our vehicles and crews to be where the public need them to be, when they need them: this is why you might see an ambulance on ‘standby’ in locations that are not ambulance stations because they are closer to patient demand. The trust has made a strong commitment to Make Ready which is vitally important to us providing an efficient and responsive service to patients.”

MAYOR’S VISIT: Lord mayor of Canterbury Heather Taylor and Lady Mayoress Linda Taylor at Canterbury Ambulance Station, with clinical services manager Andy Burton and clinical team leader David Latham
MAYOR’S VISIT: Lord mayor of Canterbury Heather Taylor and Lady Mayoress Linda Taylor at Canterbury Ambulance Station, with clinical services manager Andy Burton and clinical team leader David Latham

Make Ready centres are near major hospitals and as well as the Thanet base in Haine Road there is also a centre in Ashford. The centres allow vehicles to be regularly deep cleaned and swabbed for micro organisms. plus on-site mechanics are available to reduce the risk of breakdowns.

Response posts will be in Herne Bay, two locations in Canterbury Estuary View medical centre in Whitstable and Faversham as well as Deal, Birchington, Margate and Broadstairs. Response posts usually cater for one crew at a time and provide rest facilities for staff between calls. They are designed to be in areas of high patient demand. South East Coast Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust spokesman Gerda Murdoch said:

“Currently there is no plan to close Herne Bay Ambulance Station and it will remain in place as a response post. However, the Trust will continually review whether its response posts are in the right place to continue to meet patient demand. Under the Make Ready for Thanet response vehicles will continue to be positioned in locations according to patient demand. No staff posts are under threat of redundancy as a result of these changes.”

Officials have admitted they expect the changes to affect their response times. In a post on the ambulance service website it states:

“With any new system which is introduced, it takes a little time for things to bed in and people to adapt to the changes so we do expect some impact on our performance but we do our best to manage this appropriately. We take patient safety extremely seriously and see Make Ready as a vehicle to ensure that not only do our clinical staff have more time to treat patients but patients are treated in a safer, cleaner environment.

The Trust has and continues to invest in the Make Ready system – £55 million. We need to recoup the cost of introducing this system. This is why some stations which become surplus to requirement will need to be sold.”

Herne Bay Times, July 2nd 2014

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