SOUTH Central Ambulance Service’s proactive move to try to halt its fall in eight-minute response standards for West Oxforshire should be welcomed.

Although the organisation has been criticised for the decline, this latest move seems to indicate that officials are now taking bolder actions.

Running an ambulance service across a county such as Oxfordshire, with a densely-populated city and quieter surrounding rural districts is, of course, a fine balancing act.

The service is held to the same standard of getting a first responder to 75 per cent of life-threatening cases in just eight minutes, across the whole area.

And Steve West, director of operations, has stated that for a service facing rising demand and cuts of £4m, this is particularly challenging.

But it is right that concerns are being raised, after repeated years of decline.

Residents in Witney and the rest of West Oxfordshire expect and deserve an excellent ambulance service.

And choosing between living in the city or the countryside should not have to be a choice between a better or worse first response times – or possibly life and death.

The pilot scheme for a new base in Witney is a step forward to addressing this issue.

But perhaps health bosses are now wishing they had never closed the original Welch Way premises in the first place.