Paramedic’s ambulance delay fears

A Birstall paramedic says she fears it could take longer to reach emergencies after health chiefs downgraded an ambulance station.

The Yorkshire Ambulance Service decided to change Gildersome Ambulance Station, which can deploy trained staff to emergencies across the district, to a standby point rather than as a base for crews.

Around 50 staff including paramedics, technicians and emergency care assistants will be moved to Leeds’ resource centre in Beeston as a result of the change.

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Trust bosses said response times would not be compromised as a result of the move.

However, paramedic Julie Sagar, who has worked at the station for more than 20 years, said: “I’m worried because it will make a corridor of extended response times at the top of the Morley area in Drighlington, Tingley, Gildersome.

“The traffic around White Rose and Elland Road in mornings, evenings and sales periods is bad and you can’t make three lanes out of a two-lane road.

“A lot of staff are upset and have spoken to MPs, everyone is campaigning as individuals.”

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Standby points are places where crews can take breaks or wait between call-outs and they are often lay-bys or car parks. Mrs Sagar, 48, also said that around a third of staff would have to travel up to 30 minutes extra every shift as a result of the changes.

She said: “We will have a number of staff working around 80 hours a year more because of the increased travel time.

“It will affect family life too because it’s less time with them. A large number of staff have had to put transfers in to other stations, it’s breaking up staff who have worked together for years. It’s chaotic at the moment, you walk into work and people ask what is happening because nobody knows.”

Yorkshire Ambulance Service’s head of emergency operations John McSorley said: “We have been talking to staff for some considerable time about changing the use of Gildersome Ambulance Station into a facilitated standby point with toilet and kitchen amenities and spaces for a number of vehicles so the area retains 24/7 ambulance presence.

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“We would like to reassure local residents that this change will be seamless for them and they will continue to receive a responsive, high quality clinical service from us.”

A spokeswoman for the service said the majority of staff would not be affected by the changes to the station but any who were would be reimbursed for any extra travel costs.

The changes are expected to take place in June.