Fears over paramedic car withdrawal

A lifesaving paramedics' car is being withdrawn from a Breckland market town because call volumes do not justify it being stationed there the East of England Ambulance Trust has said.

A lifesaving paramedics' car is being withdrawn from a Breckland market town because call volumes do not justify it being stationed there the East of England Ambulance Trust has said.

But townsfolk in Watton are furious at the decision and are mounting a campaign to keep the vehicle and its crew within the rural community.

Patients at the town's doctors' surgery are collecting signatures for a petition calling for the car's retention and the town council has also written to both the ambulance trust and NHS Norfolk calling for it to stay.

A spokesman for the East of England Ambulance NHS Trust said: “It was on a three month trial.


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“During the time it was trialled we looked to see how much it was used and the amount of calls it received and in this particular situation the call volume was low.

“Now the trial has come to an end. The conclusion of the trial is that volume of calls is low and is not sufficient to keep it running from there.

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“Our resources are for the whole community. If they are not being well used by one part of the community then we have to put them back into wider use.”

The spokesman added that the two staff who were brought over from the trust's Swaffham unit will now go back to their original roles.

Mary Osborne, practice manger at Watton Medical Practice, said that the paramedic car had been in the town for much longer than the recent three month trial and, with Watton being more than half an hour away from any hospital, it was seen as a vital resource.

She said: “If there has been a low volume of calls that might be within Watton but the car covers a massive geographical area.

“At our patient liaison meeting there was real horror at this, particularly because there has been no consolation.”

Mrs Osborne said that even with blue lights and sirens Watton was 35 minutes from the nearest hospital and the paramedic car was vital in providing initial rapid emergency response in the first few minutes of an incident.

Some patients from the practice are now getting a petition together calling on the ambulance trust to rethink its decision.

Watton Town Council has also put its weight behind the call and at its meeting on Tuesday councillors voted to send letters calling for the car to be kept in the town to both the ambulance trust and the local primary care trust.

Speaking after the meeting Margaret Holmes, vice chairman of Watton Town Council, said: “Watton is getting bigger and is population is growing older but its services are being cut.

“It is important that we do not let this go for both Watton and the outlying villages.”

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