The campaign to stop the scrapping of the paramedic car that serves the community in Swanage and across Purbeck, has now got the backing of thousands of residents.
A petition was set up by the chair of the Swanage Area Forum, Melvyn Norris in April 2020, shortly after Swanage Town Council informally learnt of the plans to withdraw the service.
Consultation with local organisations and residents
The South Western Ambulance Service Trust (SWAST) has now granted the car a temporary reprieve and confirmed that it won’t scrap it without first consulting with local organisations and residents.
In December 2020, in response to a letter from Swanage Town Council, the SWAST chief executive, William Warrender said that the Dorset Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) which funds the car, will be leading on the public engagement on the paramedic car’s future, supported by SWAST, early in 2021, however a date has not yet been publically set.
“It’s our lifeline when the ambulances are tied up ferrying patients to hospital”
The petition has now received over 4,536 signatures but Melvyn Norris says that anyone who wishes to see the paramedic car retained must sign to show their support. He said:
“I know from personal experience just how crucial the paramedic car is to the community in Swanage and across Purbeck. We live a long way from the main hospitals and with the A and E planned to move to Bournemouth Hospital, we’ll be even further away from accessing emergency healthcare.
“It’s not just an ambulance car in the same way as elsewhere in the country – it’s our lifeline when the ambulances are tied up ferrying patients to hospital. Driven by paramedics, not only can it get to us fast but the amazing NHS staff have saved lives here in Purbeck as so many people have told me.
“It also relieves the pressure on our busy GPs by carrying out house visits and responding to call outs overnight. I’d really like to urge anyone who values this important service to sign the petition – it’s so important that it’s not scrapped!”
To understand how integral the paramedic car is to Swanage, local resident Thelma Deacon asked the ambulance trust how many times the car was called out over a year.
In 2019, it was called out 996 times to incidents just in Swanage and its immediate villages. This does not include all the additional callouts to Corfe Castle, Wareham and the wider Purbeck area.
“Cardiac and respiratory symptoms – both life threatening conditions”
Thelma Deacon said:
“On hearing that the ambulance car might be withdrawn from Swanage I decided to gather information about its usage. Through freedom of information I applied to SWAST in November 2020 for the figures relating to callouts and categories in attendance to Swanage, Studland, Langton Matravers and Worth Matravers in 2019.
“I’ve now received the results; these areas had 996 callouts, the majority handled by 999 calls. This is a big number, amongst which are cardiac and respiratory symptoms – both life threatening conditions. I am very concerned about what will happen to this number when the ambulance car is taken away.”
“Better equipped to get out to harder to reach places”
Councillor Debby Monkhouse, from Swanage Town Council added:
“People may not realise that the paramedic car is a four wheel drive vehicle, so is better equipped to get out to harder to reach places, like the South West Coast Path above Dancing Ledge – and maintain life while waiting for the helicopter, where a double crewed ambulance can’t get anywhere as near to a patient in those circumstances.”
Tell your story
Ahead of the public consultation, the Swanage Town Council Emergency Health Services working party and the Swanage Area Forum are collecting people’s stories about the Purbeck Paramedic Car and how it has helped them. They would especially like to hear from parents who have been helped by the paramedic car when their child has fallen ill.
Personal accounts can be sent to Councillor Debby Monkhouse via email to firstname.lastname@example.org or chair of the Swanage Area Forum, Melvyn Norris via email email@example.com
Sign the petition
The petition to save the Purbeck Paramedic Car is available to sign online