Union fears ambulance cuts effect
PROPOSALS to cut the number of double-staffed ambulances on duty in Luton have been condemned by trade union Unison.
The town currently has six double-staffed ambulances available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
But the union says a review of staff rotas at the East of England Ambulance trust is likely to result in the number of double-staffed ambulances being cut to two.
The service will rely more on rapid response vehicles (RRVs) as a result, it says.
Two ‘intermediate tier vehicles’ will be sent to surrounding ambulance stations, and double-staffed ambulances replaced with other vehicles such as RRVs.
Double staffed ambulances are fully-equipped ambulances staffed by at least one paramedic capable of providing a wide range of emergency treatment and transporting patients to hospital.
RRVs are cars driven by paramedics that can provide emergency care at scene of incident but cannot transport patients.
Intermediate tier vehicles are ambulances that can transport patients but are usually staffed by emergency care assistants who can only provide a limited range of treatment, Unison said.
Unison spokesman Gary Applin said: “We are really concerned that there will be detrimental effect on patient care caused by these cuts.
“Patients in need of emergency care are going to have to wait longer to be transported to hospital.
“A reduction in services will most certainly have a negative impact on performance targets.”
But a spokeswoman for the ambulance trust said the changes would actually mean more availability of emergency vehicles.
She said: “As a result of the new rotas, total vehicle hours are boosted by more than 60 a week.
“The reason for the revisions is that intelligent analysis shows there are places and times when we have too many vehicles and crews for the number of patients we see, and places and times when we do not have enough.
“So these changes are set to simply redress that balance to improve our response times and quality of service for patients.
“This analysis also demonstrates that rapid response vehicles, which get to scene 25 per cent faster than a traditional ambulance, are an extremely valuable resource when less than half the patients we see need hospital transport.
“Many of those that do, with more minor complaints, can be taken in an RRV.”
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Weather for Luton
Saturday 25 May 2013
Temperature: 5 C to 15 C
Wind Speed: 14 mph
Wind direction: North
Temperature: 6 C to 18 C
Wind Speed: 12 mph
Wind direction: North west