MS forces answer on engagement process on Welshpool base
Following questioning from Montgomeryshire’s Member of the Senedd, Russell George, Wales’ Health Minister revealed that the public engagement process on the future of Wales Air Ambulance’s Welshpool base is expected to start by the end of March.
It was revealed last month that the air ambulance base in Welshpool will stay in place for the next three years. However, its fate after then is still uncertain and Russell George MS questioned Eluned Morgan MS today (8th March) on when the formal engagement process would start on
Last August, EMRTS Cymru – a service within the Welsh NHS – and The Welsh Air Ambulance Charity first announced plans to reconfigure their service, which included the concerning news that they propose to close the base in Welshpool. Mr George, along with many others, have campaigned against the proposals.
In the Senedd this week (8th March), Mr George said:
“The communications regarding the engagement process has been pretty abysmal.
“We saw all organisations involved, and I include the Welsh Government in that, deny responsibility, passing over legitimate concerns and causing some serious worry as well. But I think, in part, this was recognised, which is why the chief ambulance commissioner was appointed to lead a review, then leading to a meaningful process and proper engagement.
“My constituents want to give their views on this proposal. It was supposed to start at the end of last year, and then it was January.
“So, can I ask you, Minister, what is your assessment of why we've had to wait several months for the formal engagement process to begin, and, ultimately, when do you think that my constituents will be able to formally present their views on what they think about proposals to close the base in Welshpool?”
The Health Minister responded:
“I expect the formal engagement process to commence by the end of March. So, by the end of this this month, I hope that your constituents will have the opportunity to have their say. I know how passionately they feel about this, and I think it is important. I've been looking again to make sure that—actually, the criteria that we're looking at need to be the right criteria.”
Commenting, Russell George MS said:
“I was pleased with the news that the base in Welshpool has been saved for a further three years, but people across Montgomeryshire and beyond want to ensure that it remains in perpetuity.
“The Minister this week confirmed to me that that we can now expect the engagement process to start this month. This means we can expect to have details about public meetings, and how people can present their views.
“You may have signed a petition, or already made your views known, but I want to highlight, it is vital that once this formal process starts, you must again register your view, it is important that everyone responds to the formal engagement so views are actually recorded
“Because the news last week was only a reprieve – the fight goes on to secure a base that remains in Mid Wales for decades to come.”