A senior figure at West Midlands Ambulance Service has explained why proposed closures of stations in Evesham and Malvern are not as drastic as they first appear.

Murray MacGregor, communications director of the trust, has addressed the concerns regarding the potential closure of two local community ambulance stations.

This comes after Avon Ward councillor Emma Nishigaki set up a Facebook page to stop the closures after her father-in-law died in March 2020.

Despite living less than 300 metres from the Community Ambulance Station (CAS) Yukio Nishigaki died after he was left waiting for care when a piece of food got lodged in his throat.

Mr MacGregor explained  in a briefing sent to councillors and MPs that the closure of the CAS’ is the next step in the Ambulance Response Programme, introduced in 2018.

The programme has seen under-equipped ‘rapid response vehicles’ replaced by ambulances.

Due to this change, and increased pressures on the service, Mr MacGregor said there is little need for CAS.

July saw record levels of 999 calls, with 6,418 answered on July 19, while delays in patient handovers has seen crews waiting outside hospitals for over 11 hours. 

As a result of these issues, WMAS introduced the review into the CAS sites. 

Mr MacGregor explained that CAS sites are rarely used by the crews and that closing them could actually increase response times.

In a statement, he wrote: “It is now rare, if ever, that the crews who work at the CAS points ever get back to the site other than for their meal break or at the end of their shift.

“Therefore, one of the questions we are duty bound to consider is whether it is appropriate for the Trust to spend precious funds on a building that is rarely used when these could instead be spent on additional staff and vehicles; the things that save lives?

“Any changes made will not see a decrease in the number of staff or ambulances in the area, just change where they start or finish a shift.”

Data released by WMAS shows that calls in Evesham and Malvern are very rarely met by crews from the CAS’.

In the first six months of 2021 there were a total of 29,222 cases in Evesham, only 1,015 of these were responded to by an Evesham crew, 3.5 per cent. 

Meanwhile in Malvern, 1,113 of the 22,801 cases were seen to by the Malvern crews, a percentage of 4.9 per cent. 

Mr MacGregor added: “We will only make a change if we are convinced that it will benefit patients.”