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Safety fears as life-saving paramedic car is withdrawn from Hemsby

PUBLISHED: 08:30 20 September 2013

Filer of East Anglian Ambulance Trust rapid response vehicle . Photo: Steve Adams

Filer of East Anglian Ambulance Trust rapid response vehicle . Photo: Steve Adams

Villagers claim they have been “fobbed off” by ambulance service bosses who took away their life-saving paramedic car.

The rapid response vehicle used to be stationed outside Hemsby surgery, but was moved to Caister police station late last year.

And concerns have been voiced that it now drifts down to Yarmouth during its shift, leaving the northern parishes with minimal coverage.

Shirley Weymouth, borough councillor for East Flegg ward, has been campaigning to bring the car back to Hemsby for a year.

She said she first arranged a meeting with ambulance service chiefs in January, but they delayed it until last month and failed to reassure her.

“We’ve been badly let down,” she said. “We’ve just been dismissed and fobbed off.

“Unless something is done now we will end up with absolutely nothing.”

She explained that the paramedic vehicle that used to be stationed at Hemsby surgery offered a valuable service for the community.

“The man usually on duty used to do more than a normal paramedic,” she added. “He did stitching, changed dressings, did prescribing and delivered medicines which saved people going to A&E.

“He would provide that additional cover.

“Then we were told that the car was going to be removed from Hemsby - now it can be any man and his dog turn up.”

And she is concerned that the new standpoint at Caister is too far from Stalham - which it covers - to offer an adequate response time.

“They’re never going to get there within the target time if someone in Stalham is having a heart attack and they’re at Caister,” she said. “The northern parishes are the poor relation of Yarmouth.”

Noel Galer, Hemsby parish councillor, said he was concerned that resources are being allocated by a computer system that maps where the highest density of calls is.

He claimed the end result is that ambulances and paramedic cars are pulled into Yarmouth, lengthening response times in the villages.

“We understand there’s a shortage of resources but we’ve got a responsibility to the people round here,” he added.

Ms Weymouth has collected scores of letters of protest from residents in the northern parishes, and has written to Great Yarmouth MP Brandon Lewis and North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb for their backing.

And she is in the process of starting a petition.

An ambulance service spokesman said representatives attended a meeting of Hemsby Parish Council last month and spoke in detail to the three of the ten members of the council who were present.

“We are facing a significant challenge within the wider community and our remit is to have clinical staff available to respond to 999 calls,” added the spokesman. “This particular paramedic (ECP) was based at the local surgery, providing a minor illness and injury service within surgery hours to its patients.

“We do not receive any funding from the surgery for this member of staff but should they so wish, it remains within their gift to offer a position for a surgery based emergency care practitioner to work for them in this way.

“While it is true, because of population density, that urban areas provide the most call demand, we analyse response data and spread our resources to take account of both urban and rural locations.

“Since July 2011, 999 call demand has fallen in the Hemsby area and we do have response posts at Potter Heigham, Beccles, Pakefield, Halesworth, Ditchingham, Bradwell and Caister as well as in Yarmouth and Lowestoft.

“At the same time we have raised the number of hours covered in the Waveney area where performance is actually very good.”

To register your support to bring the paramedic car back to Hemsby, call Ms Weymouth on 01493 731625.

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