Unions wary of shared station move

Fire Station crews join Ambulance service staff
Fire Station crews join Ambulance service staff

HEALTH unions are guarded about a scheme for ambulance staff to join forces with firefighters in a ground breaking shared-accommodation scheme.

North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) staff in Newton-le-Willows moved in with their emergency service colleagues from Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service (MF and RS) this week following a decision to vacate the old Silverdale Road station and move into the new community fire station further along Silverdale Road.

The fire station, located next to the Trust site, was officially opened in July and now the occupancy terms have been agreed, five ambulance staff ,one emergency ambulance and one patient transport vehicle have transferred to the new building.

Regional health officer with staff union Unison Craig Wilde said: “What has happened in Newton-le-Willows is not a new concept, there are many ambulance stations across the trust that share land or buildings and this stems from the old county ambulance days,

“Unison excepts the need to modernise our estates, but this should not mean the whole sale reduction of ambulance stations.

“We have made our employer fully aware of our position of retaining ambulance stations and we remain opposed to co-location unless there is joint ownership and a clear benefit to the public and our staff because we are not in the businesses of selling of our crown jewels.”

He added that Unison and the other trade unions were “not happy” with the reality of the ambulance service being “just lodgers” in the facility.