OSWESTRY is to have its own ambulance again after health bosses announced a U-turn.
West Midlands Ambulance Service has agreed to reverse a controversial decision to base the region’s ambulances at Shrewsbury after the service recorded a 5.5 per cent increase in 999 calls from 2012 to 2013.
From February, Oswestry, along with Bridgnorth, Craven Arms and Market Drayton, will have its own designated ambulance which will begin and end each shift at the Cambrian Medical Centre in Thomas Savin Road, being replenished as and when it is needed.
The move has been welcomed by campaigners who have fought for improved services after a string of complaints about patients waiting too long to be taken to hospital.
Oswestry town councillor Sandy Best, who had suffered first hand from a long wait for an ambulance when her partner suffered a serious kidney infection in December, said she had “breathed a sigh of relief” when she heard the news.
“I’m absolutely delighted,” she added.
Oswestry town councillor Paul Milner, welcomed the news but questioned how much money had been wasted due to the U-turn.
“It’s brilliant that we’re getting our own ambulance back.
“To have one on our doorstep, ready to go, is great news.
“Hopefully response times will come back down.
“But it does seem it’s going back to the way it was after spending a lot of money.”
In 2012, WMAS pooled the region’s ambulances in Shrewsbury and Telford under the ‘Make Ready’ scheme and Oswestry’s ambulance was replaced with a rapid response car manned by a solo advanced paramedic.
The hope was that the car would reach the scene more quickly and be able to treat more patients at the scene without the need for a hospital visit.
Solo paramedics were able to get to the scene quickly but then had to wait for an ambulance to come if a trip to hospital was needed.
From February, this solo paramedic will be teamed up with another, in an ambulance rather than a car but the aim will still be to treat as many patients as possible at the scene.
Shropshire councillor for Oswestry East, Martin Bennett, was also pleased to hear of the changes but questioned why the number of 999 calls had increased.
“A lot of the calls they are getting are the more serious ones that need hospital treatment so the next question is, ‘where will they be taken?’.
“This will certainly see an improvement to services but I think the reasons for it prompt further questioning.”
The u-turn follows last week’s news that Shropshire Clinical Commissioning Group has had its budget for the next five years cut by £16 million which prompted concern at the time that it would compound problems with long ambulance waiting times.