Protest march in Ripley over ambulance station closures

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Media captionProtesters marched in Ripley to oppose plans to reduce the number of ambulance stations

Protesters have held a march in a Derbyshire town over plans to shut all but two of the county's 16 ambulance stations.

East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS) wants to move its services into 13 "superhubs" in the region claiming it would improve response times.

Protesters in Ripley say the changes will leave rural areas isolated.

Under the plans, EMAS would have hubs in Derby and Chesterfield supported by a series of standby points.

An EMAS spokesman said the superhubs, supported by a series of stand-by sites, would be more efficient and would enhance services.

Under the proposals, the service would have 13 main hubs across the region in Northamptonshire, Nottinghamshire, Lincolnshire, Leicestershire and Derbyshire, but 53 ambulance posts would close.

'Greater distances'

Opponents said vehicles would have to travel further to remote locations.

Ripley town councillor David Williams, who organised the march, said: "These standpoints that they are proposing, whichever way you look at it, ambulances will have to travel greater distances over Derbyshire's hilly terrains, over narrow roads and sharp bends, to get to accidents and other events... leading to increased times responding to incidents."

John McGrath, a spokesman for Unison which represents ambulance staff, said: "What's needed is an investment to improve frontline services and improve staff and increase the number of ambulances on the road."

EMAS said the plans were still in the consultation phase and it did not believe that lives would be put at risk.

Managers have also said it is not a case of whether to make changes - but what changes to make.

The consultation runs until 17 December.

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