Malcolm Alexander, Chair of the Patients’ Forum for the London Ambulance Service, has brought HAFSON some welcome news.
The London Ambulance Services plan to close 68 ambulance stations and replace them by 18 super-hubs across London has collapsed, following a campaign led by the Patients’ Forum for the LAS. Local councillors and MPs challenged the LAS on their plans, while staff who were not formally consulted expressed relief that the poorly thought-out plans has been rolled back.
The LAS has been planning for some years to sell off the land they occupy across London to provide local ambulance stations, and buy vast tracks of land for new super-hubs, but they have now realised that the land they seek for their hubs just doesn’t exist in London. Even if it did, placing large numbers of diesel ambulance in a single hub would poison the atmosphere for local people. It is bizarre that the LAS which is entirely focussed on urgent and emergency care, has a fleet of poisonous diesel engines.
The greatest problem for the LAS is their failure to achieve their Category C2, C3 and C4 targets, which have all been breached across London, and breach of their C1 – 7-minute life or death target in 22 London boroughs (but not Hammersmith and Fulham which is currently functioning better than other boroughs). They have too few ambulances and too few staff.
Over the past few months both their Chief Executive and Deputy CE resigned, and the CE was replaced by Daniel Elkeles who is well known in south and west London. The Patients’ Forum for the LAS which has monitored the LAS for 16 years has been barred from carrying on their monitoring activities, because the LAS felt too exposed by the work of the Forum.
Following the Forum’s campaign and media coverage, the LAS has agreed to engage with staff and volunteers, and consult with the public and other partners on any plans to close or move stations, and “make the best use of the stations we already own and only leasing new sites where it won’t be possible to do something to improve the existing stations”. The LAS now say there plan covers 10 years.
This is a victory, but it is also important to make contact with local ambulance stations to ensure staff of our support for their great work, and make sure that if their ambulance station is under attack that we will actively support them to prevent closure and further deterioration of the critical performance targets.