A PETITION calling on West Midlands Ambulance Service (WMAS) to abandon their proposal to close the Rugby Community Ambulance Station (RCAS) has been presented to the House of Commons by the town’s MP, Mark Pawsey.
The RCAS at the Hospital of St Cross – the base of the only ambulance which starts and ends its shift in Rugby – is due to close at the end of September.
A WMAS spokesman has said the number of ambulances operating in the area will not decrease – but the move has nevertheless sparked concern that call-out times in the town will be affected.
The petition – which had received over 4,300 signatures when Mr Pawsey presented it – has now been signed by over 5,300 people.
Mr Pawsey said the number of signatures the petition attracted in a short space of time was a demonstration of the strength of local feeling over the proposals.
Speaking after presenting the petition, Mr Pawsey said: “As the town of Rugby grows, we need to ensure that services, and particularly health services, expand to meet the additional need. I share the concerns of residents that closing the RCAS will potentially put the health and welfare of residents at risk and I hope that WMAS will, as the petition asks, abandon these proposals.
“Prior to the petition being launched I had already corresponded directly with the Chief Executive of WMAS to highlight the serious reservations I have about the impact that closing the RCAS would have on local residents. I asked WMAS to instead examine alternative uses of the existing site so that it can better serve the ambulance crews who use it, and the people of Rugby.”
Alison Livesey, who started the petition, added: “After my family’s own experience of long waiting times in an emergency, I felt I had to do something to let Rugby residents tell WMAS what we think about their proposal.
“The success of the petition – beyond my wildest dreams – shows just how strongly Rugby residents oppose it. WMAS must think again.”
Mr Pawsey has also written to WMAS challenging their rationale for the proposed closure of RCAS and instead to look at ways in which the urgent and emergency care services in Rugby can be enhanced as the town grows.
He has also raised the matter in the House of Commons with Leader of the House Jacob Rees-Mogg MP, highlighting the lack of consultation around the proposed closure and the wider decision making within the NHS.
A WMAS spokesman said the ambulance based at RCAS only attended 3.4 per cent of call-outs in Rugby over the first six months of the year.
He said: “There is a common misconception that where an ambulance starts or finishes a shift will have an impact on the area it is based in. As soon as an ambulance is available it will be sent to the nearest available case.
“It is now rare, if ever, that the crews who work at RCAS ever get back to the site other than for their meal break or the end of their shift. They go from one emergency to the next.
“We are duty bound to consider whether it is appropriate for the Trust to spend precious funds on a building that is rarely used when these could instead be spent on additional staff and vehicles.
“We have been asked whether a closure would mean ambulances have to come from elsewhere each time a call comes in – and the answer is no. In Rugby, in roughly 25,000 occasions over the first six months of the year, an ambulance was in the area available to respond even though it wasn’t the ambulance based in the town.
“Any changes made will not see a decrease in the number of ambulances in the area, just change where they start or finish a shift. Removing the RCAS site actually increases the amount of time ambulances are available to respond to patients.
“We will only make a change if we are convinced it will benefit patients.”
Visit https://tinyurl.com/42jkmw8b to sign the petition.