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19th Jan, 2022

MP and councillors seek assurances over reduction in Rugby-based ambulances

CONCERNS about the number of ambulances starting and ending their shifts in Rugby being cut from two to one have been raised by Rugby’s MP, councillors and NHS staff.

West Midlands Ambulance Service (WMAS) confirmed one of the two ambulances based in Rugby would move to the ambulance hub at University Hospital Coventry and Warwickshire (UHCW) by the end of March.

WMAS insists Rugby will continue to be served by the same number of ambulances, pointing out that less than 16 per cent of incidents in the area were attended by vehicles based at the town’s ambulance station in the last six months.

But Rugby’s Conservative MP Mark Pawsey said he was very concerned, and had asked WMAS for an urgent explanation and confirmation that patients would not be affected.

He added: “Rugby is one of the country’s fastest growing towns and there is a need for more health services to be based locally. I am making this case directly with the Secretary of State for Health.”

Councillors from Rugby Borough Council’s Labour Group said they had been contacted by NHS staff who were ‘very concerned’ about the possible impact on Rugby.

Group leader Coun Maggie O’Rourke said: “They are worried the changes will lead to increased response times and poorer clinical outcomes for residents.

“UHCW is acting as district general hospital for the people of Coventry and Rugby. This, along with an increasing and ageing population, means that the demands on services are growing every day and resources are not meeting that demand.”

She said the group had written to UHCW, WMAS, Health Watch and the local Clinical Commissioning Group asking them to investigate their concerns, and address how they will deal with increasing demand, manage emergency response times, and reduce A&E waiting times.

A WMAS spokesman said: “Where a vehicle starts or finishes its shift doesn’t matter. What matters is whether we are able to respond to patients in a timely manner; we are consistently the highest performing ambulance service in the country.

“Rugby ambulances attend so few cases in the town because once they transport a patient to A&E they will be tasked to the next case – even if that is not in Rugby, as we will always send the closest vehicle.

“Basing an additional vehicle in Coventry benefits both staff and patients. It means the vehicle will always be fully prepared at the start of each shift, and the crew will not have to take time away from clinical duties to return the vehicle to the hub each shift for cleaning and restocking as they do currently.

“A team of mechanics and vehicle preparation staff clean, restock and service the ambulances so that they are immediately available for staff to respond to incidents.”

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