Whistleblower says 'lives at stake' over changes to Leighton Buzzard ambulance

Concerns are emerging about the future of Leighton Buzzard’s ambulance service after changes were announced last week.

East of England Ambulance Service currently operate an emergency response car as well as one ambulance vehicle from its site on Bassett Road.

Ambulance Station

Ambulance Station

However, the authority has announced it will scrap its rapid response car at the end of the month in favour of a second ambulance.

One worried insider told the LBO: “On paper, it looks like Leighton Buzzard is getting more ambulance cover – this is not the case.

“The second ambulance will not be guaranteed to stay in the town.

“The fast response car, is different. It is tied to Leighton Buzzard, and staff try to keep this vehicle within Leighton.

“ As soon as both ambulances are sent out of Leighton, the town and surrounding villages will have no emergency medical cover. Without the fast response vehicle, the closest ambulance will be at least twenty minutes away. It is my fear that this decision to remove the fast response car will cost countless lives.”

South West Beds MP, Andrew Selous, has also been approached by an ambulance service insider.

He said: “I am extremely grateful to the whistleblower within the East of England Ambulance Service who has alerted me to this change in ambulance provision.

“I am very unhappy at the Ambulance Trust’s decision to replace the fast response car which is tied to Leighton Buzzard with an ambulance which will not be guaranteed to stay in the town.

“As Leighton Buzzard and Linslade are right on the edge of the East of England Ambulance Service’s area this is particularly concerning. I have spoken to Marcus Bailey, the Chief

Operating Officer of the Trust and have told him that I am not happy about this. I have also written urgently to the Secretary of State for Health, Matt Hancock to say that this is a retrograde step.”

The MP added that Mr Bailey had agreed to meet him over the next few weeks to go through some of the data on ambulance and fast response car movements from and within the town.

“But from what I have been told, I am strongly opposed to this change,” Mr Selous said.

An East of England Ambulance spokesman said: “Later this winter Leighton Buzzard’s current ambulance resource will change from a rapid response vehicle and one double staffed ambulance to two double-staffed ambulances.

“At least one ambulance will be stationed there 24 hours a day, and for the majority of the time, both will be in service.

“The benefit to Leighton Buzzard residents is that more patients will be assessed by clinicians working from a vehicle that can transport them to hospital immediately if necessary.

“This change is in line with the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust’s programme of continuous improvement to our response to patient needs, and reflects national Ambulance Response Programme guidelines.

“These guidelines have shifted the emphasis in pre-hospital care towards vehicles capable of transporting patients being first on the scene at most incidents.”

But the source claimed the fast response vehicle attends as many as six appointments in Leighton Buzzard a day, whereas the ambulance vehicle can be out of town “for days at a time”.

They added: “This fast response, can get to any patient in minutes, and start life saving care.

“Time is a massive factor in survival in conditions like, stroke, heart attack and cardiac arrest.

“This fast response vehicle has made a critical difference in the outcome of hundreds of patients over the years.”

> What do you think? Has the rapid response vehicle made a difference to you over the years? Email news@lbobserver.co.uk