A leaked memo from the Department of Health, signed by a senior civil
servant on behalf of the Secretary of State for Health, makes it clear
that steps are already underway to absorb the Staffordshire Ambulance
Service into the ‘inferior’ West Midlands Service. "Using the powers of
the 1999 Health Act, the Chief Executive of the West Midlands Ambulance
Service must now be invited to attend Board Meetings of the
Staffordshire Ambulance Service and his ‘advice’, I would call them
‘instructions’, must be taken in all important decisions. In addition,
there will be joint control of personnel, finance, and I.T. functions.
This is a take-over in all but name" says Michael Fabricant.
"When the merger of Ambulance Services was first announced, the
Government assured Staffordshire MPs that the absorption of the
Staffordshire Ambulance Service in the West Midlands service would not
take place for 2 years. Then the Government said that while the
take-over would still go ahead, it had been kicked into the long grass.
Now the memo reveals that the take-over has already begun.
"I am disappointed that some MPs in Staffordshire who said they would go
to the wire on this are now already weakly backing down. And I applaud
those few Labour MPs in Staffordshire who are still opposing the
Government and their illogical attempts to regionalise public services.
What a shame that this merger is not going the way of the proposed – and
now quickly abandoned – police merger.
"With the chance of recovering from a major heart attack four and a half
times greater in Staffordshire than in the area served by the West
Midlands Ambulance Service, all Staffordshire MPs – regardless of Party
– should oppose this ill conceived take-over for the sake of their
constituents" Michael Fabricant adds.