3,000 sign petition opposing axing of Monmouth’s only rapid response vehicle
Saul Cooke-Black, local democracy reporter
A petition opposing plans to remove a rapid response vehicle from Monmouth Ambulance Station, signed by more than 3,000 people, is set to be presented at the Senedd.
The plans, part of a national roster review aimed at better matching capacity to demand, will result in two rapid response vehicles being removed from Chepstow and Monmouth ambulance stations.
More than 3,000 people have signed a paper petition opposing the plans for the removal of the vehicle from Monmouth, while about 1,500 people have signed a separate online petition.
Campaigners will present the paper petition to the Senedd on Thursday, May 12, before holding a meeting with Jason Killens, chief executive of the Welsh Ambulance Service and other health board representatives.
Lorraine Allman, one of the organisers of the petition, said data campaigners have gathered from Freedom of Information requests supports keeping the rapid response vehicle in Monmouth.
“If we do not get a reprieve on this decision I will be truly shocked,” she said.
“All of the data tells us this is completely the wrong decision.
“They are making the decision in the context of an all-Wales review and they are not looking at things on a local level which is very dangerous.”
Campaigners say the plans would leave just one ambulance serving the area, and no rapid response vehicles, resulting in an increase in response times.
Monmouthshire council leader, Richard John, has recently held talks with Mr Killens following concerns raised about the plans.
He said: “While the meeting was constructive, I unfortunately didn’t get the reassurances I was seeking specifically about ambulance provision at Monmouth and Chepstow stations.
“Their justification for removing the rapid response vehicles from our stations is that there is a relatively low level of immediately life-threatening red calls and they consider money would be better spent on new emergency ambulances, which can, unlike the rapid response vehicle convey patients to hospital.
“Across Gwent they have plans to recruit 53 additional ambulance staff and increase the number of vehicles, but crucially there is no commitment for these ambulances to be based in Monmouthshire. They will be based outside our county in the larger centres of population and available to travel into Monmouthshire when required.
“I don’t think this is good enough given the significant travel times in a rural area.”
Mr Killens said he was happy to meet with Mr John to explain the issues in more detail.
“The Wales-wide roster review is a complex piece of work, and while we accept there is some nervousness among communities about what this means for provision in their area, the goal ultimately is to ensure that our finite resources are aligned to demand,” he said.
“This is not about reducing or downgrading services; it’s about working smarter with the resources we have to deliver a bespoke service to communities, based on the nature and number of calls the data tells us we historically receive in that community, as well as what we predict that demand will look like in the future.”
Richard John is a candidate for Mitchel Troy and Trellech United ward in the Monmouthshire county council elections on May 5.
The full list of candidates is:
- Joe Atkinson – Green Party
- Martin Oliver Blakebrough – Liberal Democrats
- Alison Denton – Labour
- Richard Oliver John – Conservative
- Laura McConnel – Labour
- Jayne Elizabeth McKenna – Conservative
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