Paramedics take fight to the streets

Protest: Supporters of Ripley Ambulance station protest through Ripley.
Protest: Supporters of Ripley Ambulance station protest through Ripley.

More than 150 protestors including staff from Ilkeston joined a paramedics march on Saturday to voice anger at ‘ridiculous’ plans to close ambulance stations in the county.

EMAS plans to shut all but two of Derbyshire’s 16 stations, inculding Ilkeston’s, and replace them with 13 super ‘hubs’ across the East Midlands.

The county would be served by hubs in Derby and Chesterfield supported by a series of standby points.

But those opposed to the moves say it would leave rural areas isolated and could result in lost lives.

Public sector workers union Unison is heading up the campaign to revise the planned closures and has already gathered more than 10,000 names on a petition.

Emergency care practitoner and Unison leader for Derbyshire, John Mcgrath said: “There was really good support not just from the staff in Derbyshire, but from all over the region – and members of the public as well.

He continued: “I think it just highlights the major concerns from staff and the public about these ridiculous proposals.”

Bolsover Labour MP Dennis Skinner lead the march, which snaked from Butterley Park to the market place before delivering a speech to the crowds shortly before noon.

Mr Mcgrath said he hopes the strength of opposition to the proposals shown on Saturday will convince EMAS management to negotiate new plans with Unison.

EMAS says the hubs will make the service more efficient and says it is currently paying to keep empty buildings.

The cost of bringing the stations built in the 50s and 60s up to date would be £30 m.

The proposals are still open to consultation until December 17 – with final plans expected in the new year.