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An ambulance station in Shoebury will close next month despite previous assurances that there are no plans for it to happen.
The East of England Ambulance Service revealed that the station on Campfield Road in Shoebury will close on November 26 and be transformed into a ‘response post’.
This means that it will only act as a temporary stop-off point for rapid response vehicles and ambulances where crews will park for a maximum of 45 minutes before moving on if no emergency calls are received.
Councillor Tony Cox, leader of Southend Conservatives warned the decision could “cost lives”.
He said: “This station is absolutely crucial. It is needed in the area and closing it could lead to lives being lost.”
Mr Cox, along with two of his Conservative colleagues, have tabled a motion which urges the council to oppose any attempt to close the station. However, if the motion is accepted by councillors at a meeting on Thursday it will not be discussed by council leaders until a cabinet meeting on November 5 – just three weeks before the closure.
Councillor Trevor Harp, who oversees health in Southend, said the East of England Ambulance Service had only just confirmed the news to the council, despite giving a number of reassurances that the station would remain open.
He said: “At this stage, all I can say is that we are in communication with the Clinician Commissioning Group who are talking to the ambulance service regarding our views on this. Hopefully we will have more information soon but I can assure you that communications are happening as we speak and there have been some very robust conversations about this.
“There was no council
involvement in this, it has come out of the blue for us as well which
is not how it should have been done. This is purely an East of
England Ambulance Trust decision.”
Shoebury councillor Steven Wakefield said he was “very disappointed” by the decision.
He said: “I definitely oppose any closure of this station and all ward councillors will not want this closed. It will not only effect people in Shoebury but also in the surrounding areas such as Great Wakering, Foulness Island and Thorpe Bay.”
A spokesperson for East of England Ambulance said: “East of England Ambulance Service is committed to providing a continued good level of response to the Shoeburyness area, with the site continuing to be used in its current form until November 26, after which time a response post will be established.”
The response post will provide ambulance crews with parking, toilet facilities and tea and coffee making facilities.
Speaking on behalf of the Save Southend NHS campaign group, Katie Sheehan, branded the response post a “glorified parking space”.
She said: “This purely comes down to the fact that the East of England cannot meet its response time targets so the ambulance service is concentrating the few resources it has to achieve those responses in urban areas, while leaving people in the fringes at greater risk of harm for performances statistics. It really is a post code lottery.”
The Save Southend NHS group plans to protest the closure at the station at 10am on November 16.