THE ambulance station in Darwen is set to close in May as part of a regional review by health bosses.

Crews are set to move into a new base within the town’s fire station, while the old ambulance station in George Street will be sold off to developers.

Health chiefs said the new base will provide improved facilities and save the North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) about £21,000 per year.

Last week the Lancashire Telegraph reported how Clitheroe’s ambulance station in Princess Street is due to move into the town’s soon-to-be-completed Community Hospital.

The changes come after NWAS launched a review of all 109 bases in the region, saying many are in a poor condition and cost too much to maintain.

Three new ‘hubs’ are proposed, with bigger, modern facilities in Merseyside, Blackpool and North East Manchester.

Alan Stuttard, deputy chief executive and director of finance for the North West Ambulance Service, said of the Darwen closure: “The joint station facilities between NWAS and Lancashire Fire Service will provide a more modern, comfortable base for our crews.

“Public sector services sharing facilities in this way demonstrates sound financial management and use of public money and as our staff work closely together during incidents and on training exercises, this is the ideal partnership.

“Any monies made from the sale of Darwen station will be re-invested in frontline services which will ultimately benefit our patients.”

The new facility will include a crew room, kitchen, dining area, office, locker room, toilets and shower, meeting room and gym.

NWAS said paramedic crews were often on the road for the majority of their shift, or parked in strategic spots, so insisted response times and patient care would not be affected. However, union bosses have criticised the move, accusing NWAS of ‘selling off the crown jewels’.

The following stations are still under review: Broad Oak Road, Accrington; Burnley Road, Altham; George Street West, Blackburn; Trafalgar Street, Burnley; Rakehouse Road, Nelson and Commercial Street, Stacksteads.