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Councillor eyes legal challenge over closure of local ambulance station

A town councillor is trying to raise funds to take legal action over the proposed closure of an ambulance station in Evesham.

Emma Nishigaki, who sits on Evesham Town Council, has launched a crowd funding page on which she said West Midlands Ambiance Service wanted to “further centralise services by closing all of its community ambulance stations.

“Paramedics and the public believe this is a cut back too far. This decision was taken, in the opinion of legal advisors, unlawfully due to no public or professional consultation.”

Cllr Nishigaki said whistleblowers had disclosed that the closures would lead to poor response times in rural areas, which would be masked in overall statistics by better times in urban ones.

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Lawyers acting pro bono were ready to challenge this decision with a judicial review, but campaigners had to raise a court disbursement of £450. The page has so far raised £534.

A West Midlands Ambulance Service spokesperson said: “There is no substantial change in service; the same number of ambulance staff and the same number of ambulances will continue to operate in the area. 

“If the proposed changes are put in place, it will allow us to improve the service that we provide to patients. Currently, due to the inefficiencies of having [community ambulance service] sites, the trust loses thousands of hours of ambulance time each year, time that our fantastic staff could be responding to patients. 

“By removing the 10 sites, we will be able to use those savings in time to respond to between five and six thousand additional cases each year, cases where currently patients wait longer for a response than necessary.”

There would also be savings of some £750,000 a year, which could be reinvested in paramedics and ambulances, “which save lives; unlike buildings which are seldom used and do not”.

The service said it was morally bound to run as efficiently as possible and closing the community stations would allow it to do that. 

“By asking us to keep the community ambulance service sites open, we are being asked to make patients wait longer for a response than necessary,” the spokesperson said.

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