A recently retired paramedic has described the relocation of his former colleagues from Horsham to a new base in Crawley as ‘devastating’.
Since Monday (April 18), paramedics operating in the Horsham district have been starting and finishing their shifts at a new ‘Make Ready Centre’ in Crawley.
South East Coast Ambulance Service (SECAmb) said the new base in Faraday Road, Northgate, will house the team from Horsham - although the ambulance station in Hurst Road will be retained as a ‘response post’.
But Chris Britton, who worked as a paramedic for 28 years before retiring five months ago, said staff are unhappy with the change.
The 57-year-old was based at Horsham Ambulance Station for the last eight years and lives in the town.
He said: “Many of the staff that have been there for years are saddened by this event.
“Everybody is 100 per cent disgusted. It’s absolutely devastating.”
SECAmb said the new scheme will allow paramedics to respond to incidents quicker - but Chris explained that he believes response times in Horsham could suffer.
He said: “My own opinion and my colleagues I’m keeping in touch with is it is going to have a serious implication to the local community of Horsham and surrounding ares when you go further south, Barns Green and down towards Billingshurst.
“If there is an ambulance based at Horsham, getting to an incident in the town centre takes two to three minutes.
“Quite often they have single responders but there is only so much a single responder can do, and there is nothing worse than turning up to a cardiac arrest on your own.
He added: “We have always been a very close team.
“I loved the job to bits, I was a really devoted, hands-on type of person.
“The sad thing is Horsham ambulance station has been there as long as the NHS has been going.”
A spokesperson for SECAmb said: “While ambulance staff will start and end their shifts from the new Crawley base the service provided to Horsham will be maintained as the Horsham ambulance station site will be retained as a response post.
“Shifts will also begin and end on a staggered basis to ensure that ambulance cover is maintained in all areas served by the new centre.
“The introduction of Make Ready means that the trust does not require large stations in which to store equipment and restock and maintain vehicles. We will also continue to explore other potential sites for additional response posts based on patient demand.
“The Make Ready system has been operating in other areas of SECAmb’s region for a number of years and we are confident of the benefits it brings. The changes also ensure we have modern facilities to operate from as we look to develop our estate and move away from older buildings which in some cases are in the wrong place for patient demand and can cost more to maintain.”
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