[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Tuesday, 16 May 2006, 16:36 GMT 17:36 UK
Ambulance merger plans announced
Ambulance
The Staffordshire service will be merged within two years
Staffordshire Ambulance Service has won a temporary victory against plans to merge it into a regional body.

Staffordshire will remain independent for the time being and will work alongside a larger West Midlands force.

This will cover the West Midlands, Warwickshire, Shropshire, Herefordshire and Worcestershire.

A campaign was fought in Staffordshire to keep its service, which has one of the best records in the country. It is to be merged within two years.

The merger is part of a national plan reducing the number of ambulance trusts in England from 29 to 12. It will take effect in July.

Health minister Andy Burnham made the announcement in the House of Commons on Tuesday.

Boss resigned

He said: "For now Staffordshire Ambulance Service will remain a separate trust working in partnership with the new West Midlands Service but eventually merging later."

Conservative Health spokesman Stephen O'Brien said: "I'm pleased that as a result of concerted work by MPs across Staffordshire supported by the huge amount of work by the people of Staffordshire the ministers have backtracked.

"But it is only for that period of 24 months."

A 2,500-name petition was handed to the government to protest at the West Midlands merger plan.

In March Roger Thayne, one of the longest serving ambulance chiefs in the country, left his post at the Staffordshire service in opposition to the merger plans.

Statistics show the Staffordshire service gets to 88% of emergency calls in eight minutes and, after heavy investment in frontline technology, the service is the only one in the country to have a state-of-the-art heart machine in every vehicle.




BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
See what the decision means



SEE ALSO:
Ambulance merger 'may cost lives'
19 Apr 06 |  Staffordshire
Ambulance chief leaves his post
31 Mar 06 |  Staffordshire
Ambulance merge 'not a good idea'
20 Mar 06 |  Coventry/Warwickshire
Ambulance chief quits over merger
16 Mar 06 |  Staffordshire
Record broken for ambulance calls
04 Jan 06 |  Staffordshire
Hewitt to discuss ambulance plans
28 Nov 05 |  Staffordshire


RELATED INTERNET LINKS:
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


PRODUCTS & SERVICES

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific