Future of Chiswick Ambulance Station Looks Uncertain
Plans drawn up to consolidate service into larger deployment centres
The Chiswick Ambulance Station appears likely to be a victim of a policy of the London Ambulance Service (LAS) to consolidate the number of sites it operates from.
An estates strategy review covering the period from 2018-2023 has concluded that the service should reduce the 68 ambulance stations of varying size it operates across London to 18 larger Ambulance Deployment Centres (ADC). As the Goldhawk Road station is one of the smaller ones in the network it is thought unlikely it would be retained if this policy was fully implemented.
The report states, “Whilst our estate has been looked at a number of times in the past, we have never successfully embarked on a strategic programme to review our estate in its entirety as opposed to a piecemeal way. Historically changes to our estate have taken place when specific needs arise, resulting in a great deal of variability in terms of quality and efficiency.”
Some of the stations date back to the Victorian days of horse-drawn ambulances in the 1880s.
It is claimed that reducing the number of stations would enable more rapid and efficient preparation and deployment whilst providing the right facilities to support crews and others during their work.
According to a review by Lord Carter of Coles, London has the most ambulance stations per area of any services in the country with one station per every 13km2 compared to the service in the West Midlands which has one station per every 148km2. However, London has the highest population covered per operational site at 120,000 people (with the lowest being 36,000 per operational site). London’s sites are already larger than the national average although this is skewed by a number of particularly large centres including ones in Fulham and Bromley.
The buildings used in London are the oldest operated by any service in the UK with an average age of 48.2 years which leads to one of the highest facilities costs per building of any service. However, the maintenance cost overall is the lowest in the country at only 3% of annual budget.
Under its Ambulance Operations Modernisation (AOM) programme LAS is developing plans to consolidate, transform and modernise its operational estate.
The state-of-the-art ADCs would be designed to have fit for purpose facilities for all of its staff and volunteers – including full ambulance ‘make ready’ and vehicle maintenance facilities and enhanced staff wellbeing, training and development facilities.
Other ambulance trusts across the country have already implemented a similar operating model.
The ‘estates vision’ document. in which this plan was outlined. was first published in 2019 but not publicised or consulted upon. It only became general knowledge when implementation of the plan began recently in north east London leader to protests from the local LAS Patients’ Forum and Hackney Healthwatch.
LAS say that the programme is in its very early stages and could take ten years to complete.
A spokesperson for LAS said, “London Ambulance Service currently has the largest number of stations in the UK and the oldest estate, and a significant proportion of the LAS estate is under-utilised and not fit for purpose, with some parts built in the 1800s.
“We are at a very early stage in developing a London-wide strategy to transform our estate to meet future needs, and at all stages of this process we will ensure any changes do not impact on the care patients receive.”
September 26, 2021