Changes in the ambulance service across the region are to lead to many stations being sold.
Five ambulance stations in the Black Country and South Staffordshire are about to move to new locations as part of the service’s ‘Make Ready’ plans, which involve the creation of 24/7 fleet maintenance hubs where a dedicated team of Ambulance Fleet Assistants prepare, service and maintain the fleet of ambulances. Oncoming ambulance crews collect their ‘made-ready’ vehicle and go to Community Ambulance Stations where they respond to 999 calls.
The aim of the system is to cut down on ambulance crew ‘downtime’; when the crew are dealing with issues such as cleaning their vehicle or restocking – time when they are not able to respond to medical emergencies. ‘Make Ready’ also significantly reduced waste with a reduction in of out-of-date drugs and supplies. It also reduces spending on aged and expensive ambulance station buildings. The money saved is channelled into frontline ambulance provision.
The Trust is now rolling the system out across the region with the Black Country and Wombourne at the forefront of the upgrade in service. Two fleet maintenance hubs will be created within the Black Country; in Dudley (on the site of the current Dudley ambulance station in Burton Road) and in Willenhall (on a new site at Electrium Point). Many of the traditional ambulance stations are being replaced with new Community Ambulance Stations.
In the Black Country there were 13 traditional ambulance stations which will be replaced by 29 new sites; 27 of them Community Ambulance Stations, plus the two hubs which will also act as ambulance stations. Despite this, the amount spent on estates is significantly reduced. Consequently, ambulance stations in Wombourne, Stourbridge, Oldbury, Halesowen and Cradley Heath will be put up for sale.
The new community ambulance stations will be leased at a fraction of the costs associated with the currently owned buildings. The savings made on these buildings will be channelled into the frontline ambulance service instead. The current level of ambulance cover in the Black Country will be maintained, but the ambulance service provided will increase overall with the introduction of Community Paramedic schemes in Stourbridge, Halesowen, Oldbury and Wombourne.
Dedicated to their respective towns and immediate surrounding areas, Community Paramedics are paramedics with additional training in advanced patient assessment and procedures. They will be able to treat many more patients at the scene rather than them being conveyed to an A&E Department. In addition to responding to 999 calls, the role of the Community Paramedics will be to liaise with other areas of health and social care and ensure the population they serve receive the best health service possible, while ensuring the ambulance service through 999 is used appropriately.
Stourbridge, Halesowen, Oldbury and Wombourne will each have a team of five Community Paramedics to ensure 24/7 cover. The ‘Make Ready’ system is expected to be fully in place in the Black Country and Wombourne later this year.