Opinion split on ambulance service merger
The boss of the West’s ambulance service said a merger between the two trusts in the South West would go ahead because there had been “no concerns” about the deal – despite a protest letter from an MP in the region.
The Great Western Ambulance Service, which covers Gloucestershire, Wiltshire and the former county of Avon, is to merge with the South Western Ambulance Service, which covers Devon, Cornwall and Somerset.
The proposal has now gone to Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt for rubber-stamping.
GWAS initiated the merger when the Department of Health decreed ambulance trusts should be stand-alone organisations and not funded by the local NHS, as GWAS is. GWAS said it was too small to be a foundation trust, and would have to merge with another service to be viable.
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GWAS chief executive Ken Wenman said he was pleased the merger was going ahead, and pleased no one had raised any concerns about it.
He said the plans had been subjected to “rigorous scrutiny” by external bodies.
But earlier this month, Mr Wenman was sent a letter by North Wiltshire MP James Gray, who insisted the merger proposal would spell the end of a local ambulance service.
Mr Gray has long lobbied against the regionalisation of the ambulance service, and said patients in his rural constituency were losing out on ambulance cover as paramedics were ‘sucked in’ to covering the big towns and cities like Swindon, Bath and Bristol.