Rory and Alston League of Friends have successfully saved the community ambulance from abolition. The decision by Northwest Ambulance Service and NHS Cumbria Clinical Commissioning Group to retain the vehicle and to train twelve community first responders, marks the culmination of two and a half years of intensive meetings and negotiations. Despite a severe snow storm, over 350 local residents showed up to a community meeting, chaired by Rory, to show how strongly they felt that their ambulance should be retained.

The local MP praised the ‘tireless work’ of Dr Malcolm Forster and his team, who have put together a series of proposals over the past several months on how to make the community ambulance model work. As the highest and most isolated town in England,  it takes a minimum of 45 minutes for an ambulance based in Penrith or Carlisle to respond to an emergency in the area. The community therefore rely on the Alston Community Ambulance, run by local volunteer drivers and volunteer medical responders, to ensure dramatically reduced response times to emergency call outs.

At the meeting on Friday evening, NWAS and Cumbria CCG recognised local concerns, and confirmed they remained committed to the community model. They will now work with the local community to properly train the first responders team, and to ensure all necessary governance issues are addressed and compliant with Care and Quality Commission’s requirements

Speaking after the meeting, Rory said:

“The importance of today’s result cannot be stressed enough. That over 350 people have turned up tonight in a snowstorm, shows what the community ambulance means to Alston. They should be hugely proud of the efforts they have gone to, in order to save it. This is another great example of Cumbrian community action at its best: both in running the community ambulance, and in fighting passionately to keep it. It shows that if we make the right arguments and keep pushing, we can solve even the most knotty of problems. Particular thanks have to go to Dr Malcolm Forster, NWAS and Cumbria CCG, who together have overcome huge obstacles to save an absolutely vital lifeline for Alston community.”

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