Sefton Central Labour MP Bill Esterson demands plans to ‘trial c

Bill Esterson

 

Sefton Central Labour MP Bill Esterson has demanded that plans to close Maghull Ambulance Station in Lydiate are scrapped. 

This follows a cut to the North West Ambulance Service budget by the Lib Dem-Tory government of £35 million.

NWAS has now announced that it will conduct a 'trial closure' of the ambulance station but the MP has questioned whether the evidence shows that this is wise given the government's own statutory emergency response times.

Bill Esterson said there was no need to conduct a trial closure as his own time trials showed that not all of Maghull and Lydiate could be reached within the Home Office's statutory emergency response times.

Bill launched a campaign to save Maghull Ambulance Station earlier this year after news broke that North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) was planning to close the station on Kenyons Lane.

In a letter to the MP, NWAS chief executive Bob Williams said the station was set for closure with the service being relocated to Bootle & Netherton Fire Station at Buckley Hill due to the "current financial climate".

Thousands of people throughout East Sefton and further afield signed a Labour Action Team petition, including Shadow Health Minister Andy Burnham.

Bill met with service chiefs when he detailed the level of opposition to their closure plans and his own time trial findings.

Bill said: "I met with North West Ambulance Service and had, what I assumed, was a productive meeting. They appeared to take on board the concerns that I was passing on to them, and they acknowledged the findings of my own time trial. They also confirmed that the Lib Dem-Tory government had made huge cuts to their budget.

"But I am deeply shocked and concerned to find that they have now decided to conduct a trial closure of Maghull Ambulance Station without looking at the evidence about emergency response times.

"They now tell me that they cannot conduct their own formal time trial from Buckley Hill, because they have not got access to a spare vehicle to do so. But they could station a vehicle at Buckley Hill at different times of the day to check response times to Maghull, Lydiate and Melling without having to close the existing station at Kenyons Lane in Lydiate.

"As my own time trials have shown, you can conduct a time trial which clearly shows that there are parts of Maghull which will not be suitably covered in the Home Office-set call out times.

"I made all of this clear in my meeting a few weeks back and am therefore extremely concerned to find NWAS have decided to go ahead with the closure. You have to wonder if the pressure put on them by the government and the huge cuts that the Lib Dems and Tories have made to the NHS as a whole and the ambulance service in particular have made it impossible purely on financial grounds when safety should always be the number one consideration. 

"I want to make it very clear, I don't believe that the ambulance service are behind this. When the Lib-Dems and Tories have slashed the budget by £35million, it is clear that it is the politicians who are responsible. Ambulance staff do an incredibly good job and are under enormous pressure to respond quickly enough to save lives. 

"The crisis at A&E is a direct result of Tory cuts which had the full support of the Lib Dems and this decision to close Maghull Ambulance Station is also a direct result of cuts by the same Tory government, still being propped up by the same Lib Dems."

North West Ambulance Service made clear in its original announcement that Maghull Ambulance Station was under threat as a direct result of huge cuts to the service's budget.

Bill said: "Our emergency services have seen their budgets slashed by the Lib Dems and Tories in government. NWAS is being forced to look at cutting its service as a direct result of these cuts.

"But these cuts are directly putting lives at risk right here in Maghull and Lydiate. The closure of our ambulance station will jeopardise safety. That is something that the thousands of people in East Sefton are concerned about and the point that I have repeatedly made to not just the NWAS, but also the Tory and Lib Dem Ministers who are forcing this closure through.

"I am opposed to any 'trial closure' of Maghull Ambulance Station. I am vehemently opposed to any closure of our ambulance station and I will continue to campaign against these plans which are being forced through in the interests of saving the Lib Dems and Tories money, at the expense of public safety. 

"This cut to the ambulance service is a direct result of Tory-Lib Dem cuts and it is clear that you just cannot trust the Tories or the Lib Dems when it comes to our NHS, to the ambulance service or when it comes to public safety."