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Fire and ambulance merger would be "a step too far"

Fire and ambulance merger would be

Monday 01 October 2018

Fire and ambulance merger would be "a step too far"

Monday 01 October 2018


Merging the Guernsey Fire and Rescue Service with the island's emergency ambulance service would be "a step too far", according to the Chief Officer of St John Emergency Ambulance Service , despite it potentially saving us £600,000 of public money.

The idea first came about in a report done by PwC for Home Affairs, reviewing the committee - it suggested the merger could save the £600k sum through putting both services under one roof and one management.

But in the middle of 2017, Home Affairs and Health & Social Care publicly revealed that it had rejected the idea early on, on the basis the risks involved and the length of time it would take to reorganise the systems would not be worth it, and would offset any suggested financial gain.

Most recently, the idea was once again raised at a scrutiny hearing into Home Affairs, as Deputy Mary Lowe, President of HA, said it would be in the remit of HSC to decide going forwards when she was asked if integration could still be on the cards. Now, however, it has been announced by the health committee that it had signed a 10 year contract with St John, agreeing for the charity to continue to run the island's ambulance service until 2029, with the support of a £2.4m annual States grant - all suggesting the idea has been tabled for now.

Ali_Marquis_Chief_Ambulance_Officer.jpg

Ali Marquis, Chief Officer at St John Emergency Ambulance Service.

"Merger would be a step too far," Ali Marquis, Chief Officer at SJEAS, said, following the announcement of the new contract. She said she was in favour of leaving the idea behind.

"When we ourselves looked into detail at the figures the PwC report came out with, it looked more like a £300k saving, not a £600k, and this itself would take a huge amount of work and time to get to."

Ms Marquis said St John and the Fire & Rescue Service currently had an excellent working relationship, but because of the different cultures within a fire service and an ambulance service, intergration would be a difficult move.

"The key to success is having a lot of cooperation between both parties, and we have that - but there are two very different cultures, we work in different ways."

When the report was released last year, it also looked at ideas such as a States-run Fire Service or Ambulance Service, but concluded the integration would be the most optimal model. There was some pressure for a debate on the matter, however it never came to pass. 

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