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Last Updated: Monday, 22 May 2006, 18:58 GMT 19:58 UK
MP talks of 999 merger confusion
Michael Fabricant MP
Mr Fabricant said staff are confused by conflicting announcements
A Staffordshire MP is calling on the Government to clarify the future of the county's ambulance service.

After a claim that it could take two years for a merger with the new West Midlands-wide body, there is a claim that no time scale has been fixed.

Michael Fabricant (Con, Lichfield) said staff had been left confused and worried by the conflicting claims.

The Department of Health has admitted opposition to a merger has been "very strong" in Staffordshire.

The new service - called West Central in consultation documents - will cover the West Midlands, Warwickshire, Shropshire, Herefordshire and Worcestershire from 1 July.

There was very strong opposition to proposals in the West Midlands
Dept of Health

It was announced on Monday that it will be led by Anthony Marsh, currently studying for a Doctorate in Professional Studies in Health.

Since 2003 he has been chief executive of Essex Ambulance Service which has been awarded three stars by the Healthcare Commission, after a previous zero score.

A campaign was fought in Staffordshire to maintain the independence of its service, which has one of the best records in the England.

But the initial announcement, by Health minister Andy Burnham in the House of Commons last Tuesday, suggested it would be merged into West Central within two years.

'Slower' pace

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."

There has since been confusion over when the merger will take place and how staff will be affected.

Warwickshire County Council is considering a legal challenge to block the merger.

The Department of Health said on Monday: "There was very strong opposition to proposals in the West Midlands.

"The strength of public concern in Staffordshire is such that, it has been agreed to allow merger to take place at a much slower pace to give time for the public to be reassured that they will continue to receive a high quality service."

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