WEEKEND paramedic cover in Blackburn, Burnley and Nelson looks set to be slashed under a controversial plan drawn up by ambulance chiefs – but Accrington will benefit.
The Lancashire Telegraph has obtained further details of North West Ambulance Service’s (NWAS) proposed Cost Improvement Plan this week, after the GMB union said more than £6 million of ‘frontline services’ were under threat across the region.
Under the plans, the Blackburn ambulance station would lose 7.5 hours of rapid response vehicle (RRV) cover on both Saturdays and Sundays, while Nelson would lose 11.5 hours on Friday and Saturday nights.
The stations are each currently covered by four ambulances and one RRV, which is a specially-equipped car generally manned by a paramedic.
A spokesman for NWAS said the cover was being ‘realigned’ to Accrington, where demand has been greater, although this would be in the form of an extra urgent care vehicle, to be manned by less qualified staff.
An intermediate care vehicle in Burnley would also be axed in favour of an urgent care vehicle.
Steve Rice, branch secretary for the GMB union at NWAS, said: “We’d say it’s dangerous to remove paramedic cover.”
Meanwhile, the trust plans to slash its corporate staffing bill by more than £1 million (nine per cent), which could mean more than 38 office staff in Bolton, Liverpool, Carlisle and Manchester face redundancy.
NWAS argued that only £2.1 million of the cuts affect the frontline, adding that an urgent care vehicle can convey patients to hospital, which an RRV cannot do. Accrington would get an extra urgent care vehicle for 80.5 hours per week.