Updated Late September 2023
Campaign for Welshpool’s Air Ambulance Base to Remain for the Long-Term
The Process To-Date
During 2022, people from across Mid Wales and I were surprised and disappointed by a proposal that Welshpool’s Air Ambulance Base could be closed. In the latter half of the year following the revealing of the proposals, along with Craig Williams MP, worked closely with campaign groups and others to campaign for the retention of our Mid Wales base, and to ensure there was a proper engagement process and scrutiny.
To date, we have seen no information that supports the original proposal that the Welshpool base should close, with a new base being based in North Wales. In Mid Wales, we have an older population, poorer road connectivity, and long distances to major hospitals, and it is critical that we have an Air Ambulance serving us here.
Following strong local campaigning, at the end of last year, it was agreed that the original plans would be paused, there would be scrutiny of the plans, and new proposals would be brought forward in conjunction with an engagement process. Since then, we have had a lengthy period of waiting for the public engagement process to begin with several false starts.
The Position Today
In February, we had news that the lease on the Welshpool base would be extended to 2026. To ensure that the base remains open beyond this, I worked hard to encourage people to contribute to the first stage of a formal engagement process run through spring 2023.
The NHS Wales Emergency Ambulance Services Committee (EASC), which plans NHS ambulance services on behalf of the whole of Wales, ran public meetings in various towns in Mid Wales as well as online.
I attended a number of public meetings. These meetings were well attended, with plenty of good questions and comments made.
These meetings meant we could provide our views on the importance of the Air Ambulance service to us. Concerns raised included about how critical air ambulances are in rural areas and about how poorly the process had been run so far.
In late September 2023, we learned of the next stage of the engagement process - scheduled to run between October 9th and November 5th 2023.This will include in person meetings and drop-in sessions in Welshpool, Newtown, Machynlleth and other areas around Wales. Online attendance options will be available. Further, it will be possible to submit written views during that period.
This next stage of the engagement process is stated to include testing data modelling with the public for their views. This modelling has not yet been published so it is particularly important that this is released as soon as possible to allow maximum examination of its assumptions and outcomes.
I, along with a range of campaigners locally, I met with Stephen Harrhy - Commissioner of these services. We have had many meetings with the Commissioner to present our views.
You can find out more information about the engagement process and timetable of meetings at easc.nhs.wales/engagement/sdp/engagement-timetable/
You can also email the EASC team, the service within the Welsh NHS that is responsible for this process, by emailing EASCServiceReviewQueries@wales.nhs.uk
I would like to put on record, our huge gratitude to the ‘Save Wales Air Ambulance – Welshpool Base’ campaign and the volunteers involved, and the many people that have donated to, and placed up banners.
Let’s keep up the pressure – and make sure that the views of the people across Mid Wales are heard!