Bill Esterson calls for plan to close Maghull Ambulance Station

Bill Esterson

 

Sefton Central Labour MP Bill Esterson said North West Ambulance Service must cancel its plans to close Maghull Ambulance Station after the MP's own time trials showed that an ambulance could not reach all parts of Maghull and Lydiate within the government's own statutory response times.

Bill conducted a number of time trial runs from Buckley Hill Fire Station, where NWAS plans to relocate the ambulances currently based at Maghull Ambulance Station in Lydiate, to various locations throughout Maghull and Lydiate.

He made the runs at different times throughout the day, from peak hours to times when the roads would be quieter. Each time he was stopped by a traffic light the stopwatch was stopped and restarted again when the light turned green.

What he found was that parts of Maghull and Lydiate are impossible to reach within the nationally-set eight minute statutory response deadline from Buckley Hill even at quieter times of the day.

Bill launched the campaign to save Maghull Ambulance Station 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 admitted that the station was earmarked for closure because of Tory-Lib Dem Government cuts. In the letter Mr 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".

Bill said: "Ever since I heard about North West Ambulance Service's planned closure of Maghull Ambulance Station, I have been deeply concerned. The hundreds of people who have signed the Labour Action Team's petition against the closure plans show the people of Maghull and Lydiate share my concerns.

"Taking the station out of Lydiate and placing it outside of East Sefton will obviously have an impact in response times. So I conducted my own time trials.

"I found the quickest route from the proposed new base for the ambulances at Buckley Hill Fire Station and travelled to various locations in Maghull and Lydiate, which Maghull Ambulance Station serves. I travelled at the legal speed limit and subtracted the time I was stuck at traffic lights, as ambulances obviously don't have to wait.

"What I found confirmed my fears. There are great swathes of Maghull and Lydiate that are not reachable by ambulance within in the statutory response time.

"If an ambulance cannot reach all parts of the area in which they serve within the allotted time, then there is clearly a problem. In cases of emergencies, every second counts. Some of the further stretches took me an extra three or four minutes beyond the statutory eight minutes to reach just at the quietest times of the day. During rush hour it took much, much longer.

"I am not willing to see the lives of my constituents jeopardised because of Tory-Lib Dem Government cuts. I have spoken to hundreds of people in East Sefton who have signed my petition and a number of them have told me how the ambulance station has saved their lives.

"One man told me how he had a heart attack and was only saved because the ambulance arrived within seven minutes to rush him to Fazakerley Hospital. He and his family are convinced that the closure of the ambulance station would have killed him and many, many people in Maghull, Lydiate, Aintree and Melling have told me similar stories.

"That is why I am repeating my call for NWAS to scrap its plans to close Maghull Ambulance Station."

Hundreds of people have now signed the petition, including Labour's Shadow Secretary of State for Health, Andy Burnham.

Bill added: "The response to this campaign shows the level of opposition to the closure of our Ambulance Station.

"People are concerned about the closure of the station having a direct impact on ambulance call out times. The time trials I conducted show that there is a problem and the closure plans need to be scrapped. I met the North West Ambulance Service and told them about the concerns of local people. I hope that they will think again although of course it is not the fault of the ambulance service given that the Tory-Lib Dem Government has cut their budget by £35 million.

"The Lib Dems have said they support the closure and want to move the ambulance station to Maghull Police Station. They seem to have missed the fact that our police station is already shut thanks to their cuts to Merseyside Police so that is clearly a non starter. The only way to protect the service is to keep the existing ambulance station.

"I have written to the government asking them to increase the funding to the ambulance service but it seems that both the Lib Dems and the Tories are hell bent on shutting our ambulance service. I only hope that the strength of feeling shown by the number of people who have signed my petition will lead to a change of heart.

"This really is a matter of life and death and people in Maghull and Lydiate really need this ambulance station. I shall continue to fight the government all the way in trying to protect the ambulance station and our National Health Service in East Sefton."

You can sign up to the campaign to Save Maghull Ambulance Station, by going to www.BillEsterson.org.uk