Service doesn’t meet our needs

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During the 50s and early 60s the folk of Heathfield were campaigning to get an ambulance stationed in the town.

The nearest depot was Hailsham which was fully manned during the daytime and on a callout during the night.

I was a member of the crew during the early 60s and we could reach Heathfield from the depot in 15 minutes which was considerably less than that taken today from Polegate.

It was during the latter part of the 60s that Heathfield finally got its own ambulance and I became part of the crew of three who manned it 24-7.

During day time our depot was the ground floor of Harcourt Lodge and the vehicle was parked in the adjacent field. Out of hours one of us would take the vehicle home when, on receiving a call, would collect his mate to proceed, all within about five minutes.

Our hospitals were either Eastbourne, where we would alternate between the Princess Alice in Carew Road, or St Mary’s in Old Town.

We could also use The Kent and Sussex in Tunbridge Wells or the old Pembury Hospital. Any of the hospitals could be reached within 30 minutes or even less.

Finally, Heathfield received a state of the art new Ambulance Station built in the field of our old station.

This station was constructed of three bays for ambulances plus a service bay. This was attached to crew quarters of two storey height. All facilities were provided including a petrol pump for fuel.

The station was manned 24-7 and Heathfield had finally been recognised as requiring these facilities. All went well for a number of years.

Sadly, as is often the case, someone came up with a bright idea of keeping all ambulances at Polegate.

Heathfield, along with Hailsham and others, saw their ambulance stations closed down, and our station at Heathfield now stands idle and a complete waste of money.

Not only this but our ambulances now have to come from Polegate, if there happens to be one there at the time.

They often have to come from much further and taking an hour or more to arrive.

Just recently at the Steam Rally in Waldron, an elderly lady was knocked down in the car park by one of the cars. She was kept lying in the field for over an hour as this was how long the ambulance took to arrive.

Casualties are then taken to The Conquest Hospital in Hastings which involves travelling arduous roads often jammed and taking considerably longer than Eastbourne or Tunbridge Wells.

I sometimes travel to the Conquest by car and know the problems of that journey.

What has happened to our Ambulance Service which is no longer meeting the needs of our community?

Just who are these bright sparks who think that having a central station is a better service than having the stations where they are needed?

Before folk are allowed to die due to these outrageous delays resulting from such a cock up in administration, can we please have some sensible operation once again?

It does not involve rocket science to know that cash is tight and neither does it further take science to know that there is far too much spent on the vast army of highly paid ‘pen pushers’ who fail to provide any front line practical application.

This of course applies not only to our Health Service but to virtually all government and council operated services. We need front line posts and less non-productive administration.

Brian A Hamper

Tilsmore Road,

Heathfield