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Extra emergency vehicles are to begin operating across Southend and the ambulance service has insisted there will continue to be a Shoebury-based response, despite the closure of the Campfields Road ambulance station.
Reassurances have been given by the East of England Ambulance station after it was revealed that an ambulance station on Campfields Road in Shoebury would be ‘downgraded’ to become a response post.
The controversial decision has been met with anger from critics, including the leader of the Conservative Party Councillor Tony Cox who previously said it would “cost lives” and campaign group Save Southend NHS, which said it puts people living out of the town centre at risk.
Next week members of Southend’s cabinet will also discuss a motion that calls for a cross party agreement to oppose the closure and for council bosses to write to the ambulance service to express their concerns.
Ahead of that meeting, the East of England Ambulance service has insisted that the decision to close the station is based entirely on the suitability of the building.
A spokesman said: “The decision to change the role of our facility at Campfield Road was not based on staffing, ambulance availability, or budgetary reasons, but on whether the building and facilities at Campfield Road were adequate to support and maintain crews and our new fleet.
“We plan to add four additional vehicles to the Southend locality and we would like to reassure residents that providing a Shoebury-based response will continue to be part of those plans.”
The service did not respond to a request for information on whether these vehicles would be ambulances or rapid response cars.
While nothing has been said officially regarding the problems with the facilities at Campfield Road, Kate Sheehan, a member of Save Southend NHS, accused the service of deciding to close the station down due to new ambulance cleaning facilities at a station close to the town centre.
“At Southend station they have employed two people to clean ambulances, so they are taken off the road and cleaned.
“To close an ambulance station due to it not having the facilities for cleaning is a poor excuse. You can still have ambulances stationed in Shoebury but they can go to the hub after a dirty job, be cleaned and then return to Shoebury.
“This seems like total spin, an excuse to remove a full-time ambulance station”.
The motion to oppose the closure will be discussed at a Southend Cabinet meeting on Tuesday afternoon.