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Havering residents told closure of ambulance stations will not affect care

The Romford ambulance station in Bridge Close (Credit: Google Maps)

Residents are being reassured plans to close four ambulance stations in east London will not impact patient care. 

The London Ambulance Service (LAS) is going to shut stations in Romford, Hornchurch, Becontree and Ilford and replace them with one larger ambulance distribution centre in Romford. 

Barking MP Dame Margaret Hodge described the proposals as “unjustifiable” on social media and claimed they would lead to longer waiting times and worse quality of care. 

Chief executive of the LAS, Daniel Elkeles, disputed those claims, adding “we will not make any changes which impact on the quality of care we provide to our patients.”

An artists impression of the future Romford ambulance distribution centre

The plans are part of the wider Estates Vision scheme to replace all 68 ambulance stations in London with 18 new distribution centres.

Some of the current stations date back to the 1880s and are no longer considered fit for purpose. The new centres will have modern facilities to help with issues such as vehicle maintenance, training and staff wellbeing. 

LAS deputy chief executive, Khadir Meer, said Romford was chosen as the first area to open a new centre because the current ambulance station has already been earmarked for redevelopment as part of the Bridge Close regeneration scheme and therefore a new site is urgently needed. 

He wrote a letter to Havering Council’s chief executive, Andrew Blake-Herbert, explaining the plans will not affect patient care as the majority of ambulances are dispatched from hospitals, standby points or directly from responding to a previous patient rather than from ambulance stations. 

“Of the 36,626 incidents attended in Havering in 2019 only 26 per cent received a response directly from an ambulance station, with 17 percent of these coming from the Romford ambulance station vicinity only,” wrote Meer.

He also claimed no staff will lose their job as a result of the scheme. 

The LAS is currently holding talks with Barking and Dagenham Council about securing planning permission for the new distribution centre. 

For more on this story, and the latest on our other local and national news, listen to Time 107.5FM

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