Cost-cutting plans to close every local ambulance station in the capital will put lives at risk, according to one leading London MP.
The London Ambulance Service’s plan has been reported today by The Guardian.
They report, “The London Ambulance Service has started a controversial programme to close all 68 ambulance stations and replace them with 18 new ‘ambulance deployment centres’ or ‘hubs’.
“A patient group has criticised the plan as ‘dangerous’ and MPs are worried that having fewer ambulance stations around the capital could mean patients wait longer to get to hospital.”
Currently, there are ambulance stations in Croydon on Primrose Lane in Shirley Oaks, at New Addington and by the Purley Way in South Croydon.
It is just three months since the London Ambulance Service NHS Trust appointed Daniel Elkeles as its chief executive – the same Daniel Elkeles who had spent the previous six and a half years preparing the way for St Helier Hospital to be stripped of its A&E and maternity services.
Hackney MP Diane Abbott tweeted today, “Plans to close 68 ambulance stations in London and replace them with just 18 ‘hubs’ ignore London traffic and population density. Lives will be put at risk.”
Malcolm Alexander, the chair of the LAS Patients’ Forum, said the proposals “could cause significant harm to patients”.
He told the newspaper, “It looks like this is quite dangerous from the point of view of patient safety.”
The closure plan has been in a LAS estates document since 2019, but it has never before been publicised nor subject to any public consultation. In essence, the proposals are similar to the massive real estate disposal which the Metropolitan Police underwent 10 years ago when the then London Mayor, Boris Johnson, flogged off the majority of its police stations.
The document claims that the closures would not lead to longer waiting times but will improve the care patients receive and give ambulance crews better facilities.
Four ambulance stations in north London have already been earmarked for closure in the first stage of the plan. They will be replaced by one new ambulance deployment centre in Romford.
Each of London’s 68 ambulance stations covers a population of 120,000 – the largest coverage by population of all ambulance services in England.
A spokesperson for the LAS told The Guardian, “London ambulance service currently has the largest number of stations in the UK and the oldest estate. Moreover, a significant proportion of the LAS estate is under-utilised and not fit for purpose, with some parts built in the 1800s.
“We are at a very early stage in developing a London-wide strategy to transform our estate to meet future needs, and at all stages of this process we will ensure any changes do not impact on the care patients receive.”
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