PARAMEDICS have slammed plans to axe ambulance stations in Stourbridge and other Black Country towns as part of a huge cost-cutting drive.

West Midlands Ambulance Service NHS Trust is proposing to close stations in Stourbridge, Halesowen, Cradley and Oldbury as part of its Make Ready project which would see ambulances for the entire Black Country operating from two super hubs based at Burton Road, Dudley, and Willenhall.

Ambulance chiefs say the project will improve patient care while cutting costs but staff say they are “very worried” about the plan which would see Stourbridge lifesavers currently based in Margaret Drive, Redhill, sharing rest facilities at existing community bases - possibly fire or police stations.

There are also fears the move could lead to missed response times ultimately putting lives at risk.

One member of staff, who did not wish to be named, told the News: “There’s been no feasibility study to see if this will work. The public aren’t even aware of what they are doing.

“I think the population of Stourbridge deserves to know about this. They’re not going to have an ambulance station in the community and there will be only two hubs for the entire Black Country.

“Travel times are going to be greater for ambulances to get to incidents. I don’t see how we’re physically going to make the response times.

“Staff are very worried about this plan but somebody in their wisdom has decided this is going to happen.”

Another member of staff, speaking on the West Midlands Ambulance Branch of Unison website, said: “Staff are at a very low morale as it is without this badly conceived idea! No member of staff wishes for this to go ahead.”

The Trust, however, says the plan will not affect responses to 999 incidents as ambulance staff “regularly go from incident to incident” - hardly touching base.

Bosses say many 1960s built Black Country stations are no longer suitably located and would need millions spent on bringing them up-to-date.

But the £7m Make Ready project would slash the Trust's estate running and repair costs and cut wastage of drugs and equipment.

It would also mean ambulance staff would be spared having to refuel, clean and restock vehicles themselves midshift as they would simply drop it off at the hub after call-outs, swap it for another one ready to go and return to the road.

Trust spokesman Chris Kowalik stressed an ambulance presence would remain in all of the four towns.

He said: “Everywhere where there’s a station there will be at least one if not more community response posts. No locations for these new, smaller bases have yet been decided upon but no stations will close until we have somewhere to go.”

He said the project would “more than double the number of bases and stations in the Black Country” and may even see a “brand spanking new one in Cradley".

There will also be no job losses. Mr Kowalik added: “In fact we’ll be taking on new staff to work at the hubs as ambulance fleet auxiliaries and we’ll be training staff working from cars based in the community to advanced paramedic level.”

The new hubs could be up and running as early as next year as part of the project, which is also being rolled out in Worcestershire, Herefordshire, Shropshire, Coventry, Warickshire and Birmingham.