‘Grave misgivings’ over Midhurst ambulance plans

DEEP concern over proposals to close Midhurst’s ambulance station have been voiced by members of the community.

Under the plans, a new ‘make ready’ super station at Tangmere would replace ambulance stations in the area and crews currently operating from Chichester, Midhurst, Bognor Regis and Pulborough would start and end their shifts at the new centre.

They would go from the new hub to response posts to wait for emergency calls.

A response post is planned for Midhurst.

But chairman of Midhurst Town Council John Etherington and other worried residents have stressed there should be an ambulance in Midhurst at all times.

At a presentation by the South East Coast Ambulance service to members of the town council’s community care committee, he said: 
“My wife was ‘blue-lighted’ 
to Chichester several years ago and the ambulance turned up in six minutes. Doctors said if it had been longer, 
it could have been fatal.”

He was worried the town would be without cover when ambulance crews were travelling to and from Tangmere.

Mr Etherington also pointed out the Midhurst and Petworth area became cut off in severe weather, when vehicles could not get over Cocking Hill, through Duncton, Bury or Harting.

Town councillor Margaret Guest said fire services were in danger of being cut in Midhurst and there was a high percentage of over-65-year-olds north of the Downs.

She wanted an assurance the ambulance service had taken into account the population growth of the area, the fact it was in the national park with an increasing number of visitors and road traffic accidents and possibly a reduced fire service.

“Have you got all this in your model, looked at it and said ‘okay we can manage it?’

After the meeting, former town councillor Tony Beck, who has expressed concern over the plans since they were first mooted three years ago, said he had ‘grave misgivings’.

He said some time ago, he had to wait 15 minutes for a paramedic and a further 40 minutes for an ambulance.

“With the proposed centralisation of ambulances at Tangmere, every call on the Midhurst area will suffer the same delay unless a rapid response unit based in Midhurst is capable of transporting a patient to hospital directly.”

And echoing fears the area was cut off in bad weather, he said: “We no longer have King Edward VII hospital as a back-up.”