Updated 25th April 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 into the future, it cannot be stressed enough how important it is that you take part in the engagement process which is now underway.
The NHS Wales Emergency Ambulance Services Committee (EASC), which plans NHS ambulance services on behalf of the whole of Wales, has now stated to hold meetings in the area to inform people about the current service and future considerations.
I attended the first public meetings in Newtown held on April 4th. These meetings were well attended, with plenty of good questions and comments made.
These meetings will allow us in Mid Wales to provide our views on the importance of the Air Ambulance service to us. In essence, I would strongly encourage you to attend these meetings so that decision-makers are left in no doubt about our strong views.
Once this current round of engagement has taken place, we then expect further work will be undertaken, and options for the future of the Air Ambulance service will be presented as part of a formal public engagement process. There will then be a further opportunity again to provide your views. But critically, these meetings give us the best opportunity to influence plans before they are formally presented.
While there are a range of dates and locations, I was disappointed to see that the early dates announced at short notice. After such a long and drawn-out process to date with serious communication issues on the part of various organisations concerned since last August. I am however pleased that a range of options are now available for people to engage in the process.
The public engagements sessions include in-person public meetings, walk-in sessions, and virtual sessions online. Please view the link below for the full range of meetings and events. However, I have listed the next Montgomeryshire public meetings below, which I would urge you and your family to attend.
Welshpool public meetings:
Wednesday 26th April – Town Hall, High Street, SY21 7JQ.
17:30-18:30 and 19:00-20:00 (two sessions)
I hope this is helpful. You can find out more information about the engagement process and timetable of meetings at easc.nhs.wales/engagement/sdp/engagement-timetable/ Please note that we are told that the meetings page is being updated as new dates and details are added, so please do keep checking back. I also understand that the engagement website will be updated with further information to help us understand more about the events.
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!