James Gray, the Conservative MP for North Wiltshire, has attacked the plan by Great Western Ambulance Service (GWAS) to close its Devizes control room. The services will be moved to the existing GWAS centre in north Bristol.
The Bristol centre has been answering all GWAS 999 calls since 2008 – the Devizes centre is currently the dispatch centre for the various types of response units and resources in the Wiltshire sector of the GWAS area.
Mr Gray has previously criticised the merger of GWAS into a service to cover the whole of the south west ‘from the Isles of Scilly to Cheltenham’. He believes the merger and ‘a call out centre in Bristol spells the end of any kind of pretence at a local ambulance service’: “We might as well call it a day and create a national service covering the whole of England.”
When Mr Gray raised the matter in the Commons, the Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt said the change would need to be ‘strongly supported by local doctors, that the public should be involved in any consultation, that the changes should improve patient choice and that there should be clear evidence of benefits to patients.’
GWAS are keen to keep the local knowledge of the thirty-three staff at the Devizes centre and will help them transfer to Bristol.
Devizes MP Claire Perry has declined to make a statement to Marlborough News Online on the GWAS plans.