Ambulance service bosses have apologised for a lack of communication over the closure of Oswestry's ambulance station this month.

The base in Oswestry, along with others in Market Drayton, Bridgnorth and Craven Arms, shut on October 4, along with six others across the region.

It was less than six weeks after West Midlands Ambulance Service (WMAS) announced it was ‘reviewing’ the bases' futures.

The service said the closures would free up crews and improve response times, meaning there was no need for a public consultation.

However, speaking at a meeting of Shropshire and Telford’s joint health overview and scrutiny committee on Thursday, representatives from WMAS said they acknowledged there could have been better public engagement around the plans.

Communications director Murray MacGregor said: “We would like to hold our hands up and say we haven’t done as well as we could or should have done in regards to consulting about this.

“There is clearly no substantial variation in the service so there was no legal requirement to do it, but I think we accept that we should have talked to the council sooner about it, and the town councils, and for that we apologise.”

Mr MacGregor said the planned closures had to be brought forward in an attempt to improve response times, with mounting pressure on the service caused by increasing delays to patient handover times at Shropshire’s two main hospitals.

In September, ambulances waited for an average of one hour and six minutes outside the Princess Royal Hospital in Telford, and two hours 17 minutes outside the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital. The national target is 15 minutes.

As a result, Mr MacGregor said the current service being provided to Shropshire residents was “simply not good enough”.

He said: “There is a direct correlation between our poor performance and the issues we have had at hospitals.

“One of the things we try to do to make our performance better is to free up as much ambulance time as we can, and that’s led to us taking the difficult decision to close the community ambulance station (CAS) sites.

“We had to bring that forward because of the level of delays that we are experiencing and the trouble that we are having trying to get to patients."

Mark Docherty, executive director of nursing and clinical commissioning, said around eight years ago each ambulance crew would see an average of eight patients in a 12 hour shift – and that number was now below three.

Mr Docherty said in a bid to combat this he had begun chairing fortnightly meetings to discuss what could be done to improve the situation – but just one representative from the Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust (SaTH) had attended the most recent one.

He added: “We are getting frustrated with the system.”

Steve Trenchard, executive director of transformation at Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said there were plans in place to try and reduce the number of patients requiring hospital treatment.