Plans to cut ambulance depots in London is paused due to 999 calls

File photo dated 12/01/21 of ambulances at Whitechapel hospital in London. A majority of the issues

File photo dated 12/01/21 of ambulances at Whitechapel hospital in London. A majority of the issues in Scotland's hospitals and the knock-on effect to the ambulance service are not due to Covid, a top surgeon has said. Issue date: Friday September 17, 2021. - Credit: PA

Plans to cut the number of ambulance depots in London have been put on hold after a high number of 999 calls.

London Ambulance Service (LAS) is looking to replace 68 stations across London with 18 new ‘ambulance deployment centres’. 

But at a meeting with leaders from nine north and west London boroughs, including Brent, LAS boss Daniel Elkeles said the plan is paused.

He told the joint health committee this was due to increased pressures over the summer.

This has continued as health services help tackle the rising number of Covid-19 cases. Mr Elkeles said staff were grateful for the postponement. 

The proposal would see the ambulance deployment centres supported by nearby ‘standby points’ and ‘rest and refreshment posts’, which the LAS said will stop staff ferrying to and from one station several times a day. 

This model is used in other parts of the UK and, according to the LAS, will “get more ambulance crews out on the road faster and, in turn, improve the standard of care we provide to our patients across London”. 

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The first new London hub was set to be based in Dagenham merging stations from Romford, Ilford, Hornchurch and Becontree. 

Mr Elkeles said it was important to complete the modernisation but that the delay would give the service time to get it right while it manages the current situation.

He said: “While we must upgrade our ageing estate because so much of it is not fit for purpose, we are now going to be able to keep using Romford ambulance station until 2023 at the earliest.

“This means we now have much more time to ensure we develop the best way forward to meet the needs of our patients, staff and volunteers.”

He added any changes will not affect any care offered to patients and members of the public will have the opportunity to give their opinion on any future developments. 

Mr Elkeles reminded councillors in North West London that the decision means any specific plans for a hub in the area are still waiting to be developed. 

Cllr Ketan Sheth, chairman of the meeting, said: "I welcome the pausing of this project. I welcome Mr Elkeles reassuring my committee that they will not make any changes to their services which impacts the quality of care provided to patients." 

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