Solihull and Chelmsley Wood ambulance stations are being sold off to make way for a central Birmingam-based hub.
Traditional stations across the region are being axed in favour of three 24/7 fleet maintenance hubs, where crews will collect their ‘made-ready’ vehicles and go to one of thirty new Community Ambulance Stations from where they respond to 999 calls.
West Midlands Ambulance Service, WMAS, claimed the new Make Ready system will cut down crew ‘downtime’ where they are cleaning or restocking ambulances, rather than responding to medical emergencies.
It will also save money on maintaining out-of-date ambulance buildings, with the sale of the stations estimated to bring in a total of £1,885,000, with £450,000 coming from Hermitage Road alone.
Chair of Solihull Council’s health scrutiny committee, Coun Robert Hulland, who backed the new system, said: “It gives ambulances more opportunity to be available.
“And the ambulance service now intend to operate out of a series of smaller stations in the community. The old station in Hermitage Road was probably not fit for service any more.
“Scrutiny has visited the hub at Willenhall and had a look at how it operates and were quite satisfied it would lead to a better service for residents in Solihull.”
Solihull’s new community stations would be based in Chelmsley Wood, Shirley, Olton, Dorridge and at Solihull Fire Station.
But with the borough’s nearest hub based in Chester Road, Erdington, from July, fears have been raised that any time saved would be lost again in the busy commute.
Independent Ratepayers secretary Trevor Eames said: “We’re disappointed at the closure of the station. Even ambulance staff members remain unconvinced it will provide faster response times.
“Any time saved will be lost as the ambulance commutes from Erdington to Solihull and that’s a long way away and the traffic round there, at peak times, is horrendous. It will cause delays.”
When the plans were first announced, a source close to the station said staff were strongly against the move.
“There are many long- serving staff based at Solihull who also live within the borough with exceptional local knowledge who are concerned that response times and treatment will be severely compromised and patients will suffer,” they said.
However a WMAS spokesperson guaranteed the level of cover at Solihull Station; four 24/7 ambulances and a day-shift ambulance, will continue under the new system while at four of Solihull’s five stations, would be based teams of advanced paramedics in rapid response vehicles.