THE proposed downgrades to Monmouth and Chepstow ambulance stations will be debated by county councillors at a meeting tomorrow.

A motion brought by council leader Cllr Richard John and seconded by Cllr Jamie Treharne (Overmonnow ward) affirms the council’s outright opposition to any plans to reduce ambulance provision in Monmouthshire.

And it calls on the Welsh Ambulance Service NHS Trust and the Welsh government to scrap the planned changes, which the motion states will put lives at risk.

However the Welsh Ambulance Service has criticised the move saying it only found out about the proposal when contacted by the media.

Jason Killens, chief executive of the Welsh Ambulance Service said: “We are disappointed to learn of Cllr John’s proposed motion via the Press, having written to Monmouthshire County Council some weeks ago extending an offer to meet in-person to discuss this issue further.

“We are investing in ambulance capacity across Wales, and Monmouthshire will see a rise of five Full Time Employees (FTEs) as well as an increase in the number of Emergency Ambulances and Urgent Care Service hours available.

“Through our Roster Review the wider Aneurin Bevan Health Board area will see a total uplift of 53 FTEs (equivalent to 23%) who will be available to cross into Monmouthshire to further boost response capacity.

“As we make changes we will pay close attention to patient safety information and all our decisions will be clinically led and based on patient demand data.”

However Cllr John leads the majority Conservative group on the council so the motion is expected to be passed, but it is hoped it will receive support from the Labour, Liberal Democrat and Independent groups.

Despite the ambulance trust statement Cllr John and Peter Fox MS say they are still waiting for a meeting with Mr Jason Killens to get answers on the proposed downgrades.

On Friday Richard John and Jamie Treharne kept former Mayor of Monmouth Gerry Bright company in his daily vigil outside the town’s ambulance station, where he is raising awareness of the threat.

Two petitions are now live on called ‘Save Monmouth and Chepstow Ambulance Stations’ and ‘Removal of Rapid Response Car from Monmouth’. The former has been signed by over 1,000 local residents and will be presented to council tomorrow (Thursday) ahead of the debate, as evidence of the strength of feeling.

Cllr John said: “Paramedics responding to 999 calls in the rapid response vehicles based in Monmouth and Parkwall have saved countless lives over the years. There are sons, daughters, mothers, fathers alive today who simply would not be, had these rapid response vehicles not been available for paramedics to ensure a fast response to heart attacks, strokes and other life-threatening emergencies.

“Removing these vehicles and effecting halving the capacity of the ambulance service in Monmouthshire is dangerous, reckless and will cost lives.

“Many local people have asked me what they can do to help.

‘‘Please sign both online petitions and share them. Raise awareness amongst friends and family. We cannot respond to this threat with apathy. We need to demonstrate how vital this service is to local people. You may have never dialled 999 in your life, but you never know when your life may be in the hands of some incredible paramedics who need the resources to be able to respond immediately.

“This debate will be an opportunity for councillors to raise the concerns of local residents and I’m grateful to those who have contacted me directly to share heart-warming stories of when the ambulance service was there for them and their loved ones and their fears about what could happen if these stations are downgraded.

“Thank you to everyone who has supported this campaign so far.”

Cllr Jamie Treharne, who is seconding the motion, said, “These plans, which could leave Monmouth with no ambulance cover are downright dangerous and should be scrapped. It’s vital we all come together to stand up for our ambulance service, because we never know when a friend, neighbour or relative will need it.

‘‘Together, we will Save Our Stations.”