Rasen MP’s backing for county ambulance service

Market Rasen's MP, Sir Edward Leigh
Market Rasen's MP, Sir Edward Leigh
  • Call for return of Lincolnshire service to replace EMAS

Market Rasen MP Sir Edward Leigh has thrown his support behind a campaign to restore ‘a Lincolnshire Ambulance Service’.

County services disappeared in the 1990s when the regional East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS) was set up.

Speaking in a debate on EMAS in the House of Commons, Sir Edward questioned whether the re-organisation had led to a better service.

In a statement to the Rasen Mail this week, Sir Edward confirmed he was ‘fully supportive’ of a Lincolnshire Ambulance Service.

He added he wanted to see more ‘localism’ across the NHS.

He said: “We were told that regionalisation - which was effectively centralisation - would lead to better service.

“Now we find that many ambulances are being taken off to Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire, doubtlessly for good reasons, but they don’t seem to return to our county.

“We need a localism in our NHS.

“We need local services, run by local people, for the benefit of local people.

“I am fully supportive of the campaign to restore a Lincolnshire Ambulance Service to the county.”

During the debate in the Commons, Sir Edward had said: “We used to have a Lincolnshire Ambulance Service, which I thought provided a very good service, but we were told that the way to get a better service was to regionalise and effectively centralise”.

The performance of EMAS - not least when it comes to response times - has often come under scrutiny.

On average, EMAS receives a 999 call every 34 seconds - working out at about 2,500 a day.

Ben Holdaway, director of operations at EMAS, defended the service.

He said funding was an ongoing issue, along with the number of times ambulances were kept waiting at hospitals.

Mr Holdaway added: “We respond to as many patients as safely and quickly as we can with the number of vehicles and staff we have.

“However, it is our belief that despite efficiencies made at EMAS, there is a resourcing gap, and we continue to discuss with commissioners the level of funding and resources required.

“MPs acknowledged in the debate that the NHS continues to face huge pressure and that results in thousands of ambulance crew hours lost because we are kept waiting at hospital.

“This means crews are not able to go to new calls coming in from patients in the community.

“This is a symptom of wider NHS and social care challenges and we’re doing what we can with other organisations to improve patient and staff welfare.

“Despite these challenges, it’s important to recognise that through our 24 hour seven day a week service, an incredible number of patients receive a good service and many lives are saved.”

l EMAS says that since April 2017. it has lost the equivalent of 5,258 twelve hour shifts due to crews being kept waiting at hospital.

Of those, 1,975 were Lincolnshire twelve hour shifts.