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Last Updated: Wednesday, 28 November 2007, 19:01 GMT
Ambulance call centres to close
Anthony Marsh, WMAS chief executive and Sir Graham Meldrum, WMAS NHS Trust chairman
The trust's chief executive and chairman at the meeting earlier
Ambulance service chiefs have agreed to close two West Midlands control centres.

Bases in Shropshire and Worcester will shut, and staff will move to larger centres in Brierley Hill and Stafford.

Union officials and some employees claim lives will be put at risk as local area knowledge will be lost.

West Midlands Ambulance Service (WMAS) said it would phase in the closures with checks to ensure rural areas were not left without emergency vehicles.

Mr Marsh [WMAS chief executive] and his cohorts have betrayed the people of Shrewsbury and the people of Shropshire
Daniel Kawczynski, Shrewsbury and Atcham MP

WMAS said the move would speed-up response times and allow it to get more out of staff at the larger sites.

The meeting took place on Wednesday morning at Walsall Football Club.

Shrewsbury and Atcham MP Daniel Kawczynski said he now had no confidence in the WMAS management.

"Mr Marsh [WMAS chief executive] and his cohorts have betrayed the people of Shrewsbury and the people of Shropshire and I now intend to pursue this, their actions, in the House of Commons to expose how they are putting my constituents' lives at risk," he said.

'Upgrading' services

Last month, Steve Jetley, a former ambulance worker who resigned over the proposals, met health minister Ben Bradshaw and gave him 500 emails and a 16,000 signature petition against the plans.

When the proposals were first revealed, WMAS said 16 control room staff in Shropshire would have to move to the suggested new locations but paramedics would not be affected.

Up to 28 staff would be affected at Worcester.

The service hopes to raise 2.5m from the sale of the sites in Shrewsbury, Bransford in Worcester and Stone Road in Stafford.

Money would then be spent on extending the site in Brierley Hill in the Black Country, building a new centre in Tollgate in Stafford and upgrading services in Leamington Spa.

But one woman who works at the Shrewsbury centre said most staff would not want to transfer because of the extra journey time.

VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Ambulance chief explains closure decision


Unions respond to the planned closures



SEE ALSO
MP takes 999 fight to Parliament
22 Nov 07 |  Shropshire
Call for a debate on 999 centre
15 Nov 07 |  Shropshire
Minister receives 999 petitioner
31 Oct 07 |  Shropshire
Ambulance staff wages put on web
17 Oct 07 |  England
Hundreds respond to closure plan
04 Oct 07 |  Shropshire
Ambulance call centres to close
22 Jun 07 |  Hereford/Worcs

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