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Thursday, 10 February, 2000, 13:48 GMT
Ambulance chief quits

control room London Ambulance Service 'underfunded'

The head of the London Ambulance Service (LAS) has quit following crisis talks with management.

Michael Honey announced he was ending his four year term as chief executive of the service after hours of discussions with LAS chairman Sigurd Reinton.

I hope the work that has now started in negotiating extra money for the LAS to cope with increasing demand will bear fruit
Michael Honey
The LAS has refused to comment on reports that Mr Honey had been told to resign or face the sack over his running of the service, which has been under fire because of poor performance.

LAS is the largest ambulance service in Europe, but it has been beset by problems. The number of calls it receives have soared and staff say under-funding means they cannot meet target times or find enough crews to respond to emergencies.

Mr. Honey said: "I am proud to have seen the LAS through four difficult years. The service has now improved greatly.

"There is still much to be done and I hope the work that has now started in negotiating extra money for the LAS to cope with increasing demand will bear fruit."

Mr Reinton added: "Michael has worked hard for the LAS during a period of major changes and a continuing increase in demand. We face just as difficult a future and we now need to find a new Chief Executive to rise to the challenge.

"I would like to thank Michael for his contribution during the past four years. The trust is now in a much stronger position than when he took over. We wish him well for the future."

Not disappointed

Public service union Unison spokesman Phil Thompson said he was not disappointed to see Mr Honey leave, though the timing was surprising.

He added: "Ambulance workers in London do a tremendous job in coping with increasing demand when they don't have the resources to do it as well as it should be possible to do it.

"Ultimately, senior management is responsible for delivering those resources and that may be the reason Mr Honey has had to go."

Control room staff wrote a letter to bosses last year saying patients' lives were at risk from under-funding.

The letter followed claims that an 11-year-old boy could have died because of delays in an ambulance reaching him.

Prior to Mr Honey's announcement, pressure group London Health Emergency said sacking him was not the answer to the service's problems.

Spokesman Geoff Martin said: "There has been a huge increase in demand and he has not been given the resources to cope."

Director of operations Peter Bradley has been appointed acting chief executive.

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See also:
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