THERE has been progress in a drive to improve ambulance services in Ludlow and south Shropshire.

This follows a meeting between a delegation from the town and surrounding area and a senior manager from the West Midlands Ambulance Service.

Representatives of the ‘Ludlow and South Shropshire Need Ambulances’ campaign met with Mark Docherty, Executive Director of the West Midlands Ambulance Service.

Darren Childs, Councillor Tracey Huffer, Councillor Julia Buckley and Gill George were all pleased with the outcome of the meeting.

“Importantly, Mark Docherty made a very clear commitment that WMAS supports a ‘dispersed model’ of ambulance provision,” said Mr Childs, who founded the campaign.

“He understood and agreed with us that we need ambulances spread out across the whole of Shropshire, including in rural Shropshire.

“An ambulance coming from Shrewsbury to Ludlow or Clun or Bishop’s Castle is way too far in a medical emergency. We went through response times together and we all of us agreed that the ambulance response times in rural communities now are just ‘completely unacceptable.’

“The meeting discussed some of the practical barriers to making this happen. Ambulances are off the road now because of the terrible handover times at our hospitals in Shrewsbury and Telford.

“Those in turn are due to a desperate squeeze on hospital beds, and to problems discharging patients because of an escalating crisis in social care.

“We talked too about the problems of short-term cost savings in the NHS that cause patient harm, and more costs, further down the line. Closing community hospital beds? How daft is that.”

Mark Docherty reported on the £28 million that WMAS is asking of Shropshire’s NHS commissioners, just to compensate for the cost of keeping ambulances queuing up outside hospitals and off the road.

He also spoke of the urgent need for more ambulances, for another 120 to 150 ambulances across the West Midlands.

A petition has been signed by more than 10,000 people calling for a better ambulance service.