Town ambulance station future uncertain

PUBLISHED: 10:00 24 May 2011

Ambulance

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WESTON'S ambulance station could be shut-down or redeveloped under a new review by Great Western Ambulance Service (GWAS).

The changing nature of the emergency service and the likely implementation of the new 111 phone service have resulted in the service launching the review of its ‘aging estate’.

Interim chief executive at GWAS Martin Flaherty has announced that he plans to review all 30 of the service’s ambulance stations, including Weston’s, which was built in 1965.

He said: “More than 70 per cent of our existing buildings were built before 1975 with many considerably older and therefore coming to the end of their worthwhile life.

“As a publicly-funded service, we have to consider if it is a sensible use of taxpayers’ money to spend on aging buildings.

“The focus of the review is about ensuring as much of our income as possible goes to frontline services to benefit patients.”

At the same time, Mr Flaherty said GWAS was keen to roll out the 111 service, a new national phone number for non-emergency medical incidents, which is expected to generate up to 1.5million calls in the Gloucestershire, Wiltshire and former Avon area.

This is around four times the current volume of 999 calls for GWAS, meaning the current call-handling capacity would have to be significantly increased.

He said: “Bidding to run the 111 service in our region is a natural ambition for us, given that we already have considerable in-house clinical expertise and knowledge in handling emergency calls and the out-of-hours GP service in Gloucestershire.”

An estate strategy document will be presented to the next trust board meeting this week and, if approved, will see the establishment of three project teams to start work on the first phase of the review.

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