Parish Council opposes merger of Ambulance Trusts

The following letter has been sent to the Strategic Health Authority:

Dear Sirs

Re-organisation of the Ambulance Service

The Parish Council opposes the proposed merger of the Staffordshire Ambulance Trust with adjoining trusts for a number of reasons:

    {*]Fundamentally the Council believes that ‘service level’ is clearly correlated to ‘saved lives’; that this proposal will reduce the service level; and therefore its implementation will cost lives. This is in direct contradiction with the banner of a ‘Patient-Led Health Service’.

    [*}The Council believes that the rationale of cost saving is illusory and any potential gains will be swallowed up by the costs of implementing the merger. The medium term integration costs for equipment, information technology and communications alone will have major capital and operational budget implications, wiping out any potential savings while also disrupting service delivery during the transition period.

    {*]The Council believes that the current high performance level delivered by Staffordshire will drop. Had other Trusts wished to adopt the “best practice” already used in our area, they have had ample opportunity to do so. One inevitable consequence of this merger will be to draw resources from a high-performing area until it too becomes mediocre. Another is that the merger will inevitably lead to the break-up of the successful Staffordshire team. This, coupled with the published track record of the other areas, will lead to the collapse of the current high service level in Staffordshire.

    [*}The Council believes that in the longer term there will be a migration towards the creation of fewer larger call centres. This we believe would be a dangerous option that makes the overall service not only less resilient in the face of terrorist threats, but, more significantly loses the local knowledge so vital in the delivery of a service where seconds wasted mean lives lost.

    {*]Together with other rural Councils, this parish is proud to support a team of volunteer Community First Responders who are equipped to save lives by offering a broad range of interventions that even ambulance crews in adjoining areas are not allowed to provide. Any degradation to the service that First Responders are allowed to deliver will result in lives lost and de-motivation of the community-funded teams who provide cost-effective and vital response to emergencies beyond the immediate reach of the full-time ambulance service.

    [*}The Council believes one immediate area of concern to be the drugs policy of the merged body – particularly as it affects the First Responder groups. We believe that it is highly likely that this will be more restrictive than the current Staffordshire policy with a consequential detrimental effect on service delivery leading to unnecessary loss of life.

In summary we do not believe any of the stated benefits of these proposals will be delivered in practice. Furthermore, the changes themselves will result in loss of lives in Staffordshire that could otherwise have been saved.

Yours sincerely

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