A shake-up in the way ambulances respond to 999 calls could see Burgess Hill Ambulance Station sold off and the Haywards Heath station downgraded to a response post.
Subject to planning permission, South East Coast Ambulance Service (SECAmb) is planning to provide one fully-equipped station called a ‘Make Ready Centre’ at Falmer, which will serve Brighton and Mid Sussex.
Specialist staff will stock and maintain ambulances at the centre, freeing up crews to concentrate on call-outs.
Crews will pick up and return their ambulances to the centre and during their shifts will respond to calls from a network of strategically placed response posts based on computer models showing where the call-out hot-spots are. A SECAmb spokesman said: “We are at least two years from the new system operating and we are in the process of engaging with staff. In Haywards Heath the ambulance station is likely to become a response post. In Burgess Hill we are looking for a suitable site but until one is found we will continue to operate from the ambulance station.”
The Middy understands that concerns over ambulance response times in Mid Sussex were expressed at a SECAmb staff engagement meeting in Burgess Hill two weeks ago. From April 2011 to March 2012, SECAmb reached 69.77 per cent of Category A calls within eight minutes - below the Government’s 75 per cent target.
However, plans may involve having a ‘tethered ambulance’, which would stay in Mid Sussex during a shift to boost cover, but details are being finalised.
SECAmb NHS Foundation Trust is training more critical care paramedics to respond to life-threatening calls and more paramedic practitioners to treat routine conditions such as ear infections, eliminating unnecessary trips to A&E.