MORE ABOUT AMBULANCES
The new plan is that Chippy Ambulance station will be sold off in six months time.....but only after a new Chipping Norton standby facility has been shown to be working satisfactorily ....which means getting to emergency calls in the area within the 8 mins required by government guidelines. This standby facility will be a Portakabin with rest and toilet facilities where ambulances and crew will wait - instead of in laybys on roads as at present. The proposal is that this should be at the Fire Station.
Things have moved forward in six months. Then the station had closed, there were no plans for "mini-stations", Chippy emergency calls were routinely taking half an hour from Banbury, The Town Council and the District Council were severely critical of the Ambulance Trust's plans, the Union were up in arms. A Joint Committee was appointed by the County and the Districts to try and sort things out. In turn the Joint Committee appointed a Steering Group to work with the Trust. Chippy was really lucky in all this. District Councillor Hilary Biles who represents Ascott under Wychwood was the West Oxfordshire representative on the Joint Committee and then became the Joint Committee 's representative on the Steering Group. From the beginning Hilary was determined to get a decent coverage for the Chippy area and was convinced a "mini-station" was necessary in the town. Hilary was strongly encouraged and actively supported in all this by our own Councillor Mike Howes (right). She was successful in achieving this. (And don't forget that Chippy has more than Witney or Burford have) Last week somebody wrote to our Forum.........
I know someone who works for the Ambulance Service who tells me that although there will be a standby point with a portakabin in the town it is unlikely to be used very often. It seems that the Town does not generate enough emergency calls to justify having an ambulance in the area. Think about it - since the station closed how often have you seen an ambulance on standby in a layby or by the roadside near the town Nothing will change. The ambulance service have received no more money so therefore have no extra vehicles. Despite representations from Councillor Biles Chippy will be sacrificed in favour of the larger towns and Oxford City because more calls are received in those areas. I would advise Councillor Biles to have another look at the ambulance services plans.
We asked Hilary to comment and her reply contains some important advice for the future:
I fought hard for Chipping Norton and as I said in my comments at County, was I convinced it would be 100% improvement � no I wasn�t. But at least Chipping Norton has a mini station for A & E that it did not have before. That is why I recommended that the ASAPS could not be moved further than 500m from the original choice. That way I was sure it would stay in Chippy. Yes, the biggest problem is a shortage of crews and ambulances. That was the same before this strategy. I also pointed out that should there be reserves after the sale of the stations, it should be re invested in crews and ambulances.
I negotiated to keep the old stations open for 6 months after the ASAPS opened. If it is not working � then say so! This new plan seems � as presented � better than no ambulance standby point and I did point out that the proof will be in the pudding! I also pointed out the shortage in funding, 19p per head of population per week. That is disgraceful. The ambulance service is trying to do the best with the assets it has.
The ASAP point was not destined for Chippy originally. I asked them to check the response times . They came back to the table and said I was right and the station would be better placed in Chipping Norton. I would also like to point out that there was a recommendation to pass the Full Business Plan in its entirety. I did at least have recommendations added! I think if residents are still not happy, they should write and express their fears to David Cameron and the County Health O & S Committee who made the decision. There will be a review of the consultation in twelve months time.
So there you have it. We have the facility (Thanks largely to Hilary Biles) but the need for more ambulances and crews continues as a pressing requirement. We need to continue to monitor the performance of the Ambulance Service and make our feelings known. We must ensure that our area is not sacrificed to the big urban centres to keep the Trust's performance figures up. We must lobby for increased funds.