More London ambulance stations need to be reopened, demand paramedic unions

·2-min read
More than half of the capital’s 68 ambulance stations were closed at the start of the pandemic, and at least 11 are likely to remain closed (PA Archive)
More than half of the capital’s 68 ambulance stations were closed at the start of the pandemic, and at least 11 are likely to remain closed (PA Archive)

Paramedics have called for more London Ambulance stations to reopen as patient watchdogs raised concerns about plans to switch frontline staff to 18 large “hubs”.

More than half of the capital’s 68 ambulance stations were closed at the start of the pandemic, and at least 11 are likely to remain closed under a 10-year modernisation drive.

Further details are expected to emerge on Wednesday as London Ambulance chiefs back away from draft plans to axe all 68 stations.

Seven stations including Walthamstow, Greenford, Romford and Feltham are due to reopen before Christmas.

Staff would also like to see Ponders End, Streatham and Heathrow ambulance stations reopen.

LAS Unison branch secretary Eddie Brand said the gradual reopening of stations had eased problems of overcrowded facilities and a lack of parking for staff working out-of-hours shifts.

He said medics were not opposed to hub stations as long as feared local authority restrictions on parking could be overcome. “We think that the ambulances should be spread out more,” he said.

Malcolm Alexander, chair of LAS Patients’ Forum, welcomed the move to reconsider the station closure plans.

“The LAS must concentrate on improving their performance - their response to many emergency calls is inadequate,” he said.

“There is little land available in London to build the massive hubs they are planning and the concentration of diesel vehicles in these hubs will pollute the environment.

The LAS desperately needs more paramedics and more ambulances. It needs to replace all diesel vehicles in the short term. LAS staff are very angry about the closure of ambulance stations where they work.”

LAS chief executive Daniel Elkeles said: “London Ambulance Service has the largest number of stations in the UK and some are very old.

“We’re at a very early stage in developing a strategy to transform our estate for the future. We’ll make sure any changes do not impact on care patients receive.”

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