Any other urgent business
Notice of items to be raised under this heading must be given in writing to the Head of Executive and Member Services or his representative before the meeting in accordance with Standing Order 60.
Closure of Wembley Ambulance Station
The Committee heard that the Chair would take an urgent item in relation to the imminent closure of the Wembley Ambulance Station under Standing Order 60.
The Chair welcomed Pauline Cramner (Director of Ambulance Services, London Ambulance Service) and Khadir Meer (Chief Operating Officer and Deputy Chief Executive, London Ambulance Service) to the meeting and thanked them for joining.
Khadir Meer explained that the Wembley Ambulance Station was similar to a garage with a small porta cabin which had been closed since March 2020 as part of the NHS response to Covid 19. He advised that the station was on an old site owned by NHS property services, and the lease was coming to an end therefore they had been asked to vacate the site. The Committee heard that the building was not fit for purpose to allow crews to mobilise and conclude their shift from. Khadir Meer emphasised that the ambulance station was not a healthcare setting or somewhere healthcare was provided, but a garage where vehicles were prepared and crews started and ended their shifts, with all services provided on the road 24 hours a day, seven days a week. As a result of the request to vacate by NHS property services, who were looking to redevelop the site, the plan was to vacate the station from 1 December 2020 in advance of the financial year concluding.
The Chair thanked Khadir Meer for his opening statement, expressing gratefulness on behalf of the whole Committee to LAS colleagues who had worked hard over the last few months. He invited members of the Committee to raise queries, with the following issues raised:
The Committee asked for confirmation that the London Ambulance Service (LAS) was part of the NHS, which LAS representatives affirmed. The Committee further queried what the NHS constitution stated with regards to stakeholder engagement and public consultation. Khadir Meer responded that the constitution stated very clearly that there should always be communication and engagement with all stakeholders, particularly Health and Wellbeing colleagues within local government. He expressed that engagement with stakeholders was very important to him and during the pandemic the LAS had been working very closely with all of local government, particularly with the Low Traffic Neighbourhoods initiative. The Chair thanked Khadir Meer for his response, and asked what stakeholder engagement and public consultation had taken place thus far with regard to the closure of the station. Khadir Meer highlighted that the station had already been closed since March 2020 to ensure the LAS was providing resilient services to the NHS in North West London. Pauline Cranmer added that it was their absolute priority to ensure they delivered healthcare to Brent residents and ensure they were able to provide care as communities grew. She expressed that, regarding public consultation, for her it was about ensuring there was no change to the care delivered to Brent residents, and noted that they had been operating out of a different site in Kenton, in the London Borough of Brent, since March 2020 with no detriment to the care delivered to Brent residents.
The Committee noted that the site would be due for re-development, and queried whether that meant the LAS would have the option to move back to the site once it had been redeveloped. Khadir Meer informed the Committee that they were not aware what future plans NHS property services had for that site, so were not able to comment on the future of the site.
In relation to response times for emergency calls, the Committee queried what impact operating out of a different location would have. The Committee wanted to hear more about the forensic analysis of the move to a different site. Khadir Meer highlighted that since March 2020 when they vacated the site and moved to operate out of Kenton response times had actually improved, and resources in the London Borough of Brent had increased since March. Pauline Cranmer advised that there were 2 critical time categories the LAS was measured against; category 1 for those in cardiac arrest, and category 2 for those very unwell and emergency for example those suffering from chest pains. For category 2, the national standard performance target they were measured against was 18 minutes, and Brent month on month had been achieving around 13 minutes on average for response time for category 2 calls. The Committee noted that due to the pandemic the improved response times may have been a result of Wembley Stadium being closed.
Khadir Meer confirmed that they had not operated out of the site since March 2020, and that the lease for the site was being terminated by NHS property services at the end of the financial year with the LAS formally vacating as of 1st December 2020.
The Chair drew the item to a close and invited the Committee to make recommendations, with the following agreed:
i) That the formal closure of the Wembley Ambulance station be paused.
ii) That there be a stakeholder engagement and public consultation undertaken.
At the conclusion of this item the Chair offered thanks to Khadir Meer and Pauline Cranmer for joining the meeting, and expressed gratitude to their team for doing superb work for Brent residents.