Wembley among mass London Ambulance Service station closures, says union rep
PUBLISHED: 13:32 20 November 2020
Wembley Ambulance Station (WAS) will close on December 1 with its services relocated to Kenton.
Unison rep for the station Anthony Smyth has written to councillors, saying the London Ambulance Service Trust went into consultation with staff on November 12, after they were told about the plans two days earlier.
As well as the station in Chaplin Road, he wrote that closures are also planned in locations including Greenford, Ruislip, and Hayes - along with the creation of “super stations”, beginning with Romford.
He wrote that the trust plans to “consolidate” its estate from 68 stations to 41, with the 41 then being reduced to 19.
Staff have been “advised” by the LAS that the landlord has asked that the WAS site is vacated “as they have plans for redevelopment”.
Widespread flooding damaged the WAS site this year, amid the pandemic, with repairs deemed prohibitively expensive.
The current lease was due to end on April 1, 2021.
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Mr Smyth wrote: “This closure will leave a gulf in-between Kenton and Wembley that will be substantial, especially on event days.
“This gulf will also be impacted by the closure of Greenford, Ruislip, and Hayes ambulance stations, meaning the distance and time to get to our critically ill patients will increase within the north of London area.”
However, the LAS says because ambulances “very rarely” respond to patients directly from ambulance stations, the change will not impact on our response times.
Mr Smyth added: “Our commitment and dedication to our community has never been needed more than now as we deal with the second wave of the coronavirus, as you are aware the London borough of Brent has been one of the hardest hit boroughs in London, with the highest Covid-19 mortality rate between March and June 2020.
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“As a station, my colleagues and I have a number of concerns on how this closure will affect our local community and the lack of community engagement that has taken place since the announced closure on the 10/11/2020.”
He said he has provided LAS with a list of concerns, including the “population explosion” coming to Brent with two large developments close to WAS “that will increase the population in the area by an average of 129 per cent” and a population growth in Brent “projected to continue to grow by an expected 25pc”.
The letter added that “timely access to health care is paramount, which Wembley’s current location offers to our community”.
The WAS service was redeployed to Kenton during the pandemic to help colleagues but the closure of other stations will have a huge impact on capacity, Mr Smyth warned.
“The service believes that the impact of removing Wembley Ambulance Station will be minimal but I feel that they have not factored in the other surrounding station closures or the significant growth of the borough of Brent but also its surrounding boroughs.”
He continued: “This closure has been thrust upon the staff and the community with very little notice with the trust entering consultation with its staff on the Nov 12, 2020.
“We are unaware of any plans having been submitted and were under the impression the site was bequeathed land which limits what is permitted to be built on the land.
“What we are seeking is meaningful engagement with the local community, thus ensuring the London Ambulance Service has informed the community of the removal of a long standing resource.”
Cllr Ketan Sheth, Brent Council’s chair of the wellbeing scrutiny committee, said: “This is a seriously concerning news and I am urgently seeking clarification as to the proposed closure of the Wembley Ambulance Station.”
A London Ambulance Service spokesperson said: “We have been informed by the landlord that the lease on Wembley Ambulance Station, which is not fit for purpose after damage from widespread flooding, will not be extended.
“The safety and care of our patients is our highest priority. Our service model means vehicles, including ambulances, very rarely respond to patients directly from ambulance stations and this does not impact on our response times.
“Since the start of the pandemic, Wembley Ambulance Station staff and volunteers have been working out of Kenton Ambulance Station.
“This has allowed us to better prepare and restock vehicles, support crews, and ensure PPE was better distributed to keep our staff and volunteers safe.”
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